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25 Soldiers Killed in Somalia Fighting

25 Soldiers Killed in Somalia Fighting25 Soldiers Killed in Somalia Fighting

At least 25 soldiers died in weekend fighting between rival Puntland and Galmudug regional forces in the divided Somali town of Galkayo, military officials on both sides said on Monday.

“We have lost 12 men and there are more than 10 wounded,” said Puntland commander, Jumale Jama Takar, while his Galmudug counterpart, Abdirahman Qoje, said, “We have lost 13 soldiers and nearly 20 others wounded.”

The commanders blamed each other for starting the fight, AFP reported.

The disputed town, about 700 km northeast of the capital Mogadishu, has seen repeated clashes in recent weeks.

However, Sunday’s fighting is the deadliest yet and marked the collapse of a short-lived peace agreement between the two semi-autonomous Somali states.

The northern quarters of Galkayo are controlled by Puntland authorities while the south is under the authority of the Galmudug regional state.

It is the capital of Somalia’s divided Mudug region, the scene of frequent fighting between the Puntland and Galmudug forces over contested areas. The town, one of the most developed in the region, is also divided along ethnic lines with the northern part populated mainly by the Majeerteen, a Darod clan, and the south primarily by the Sa’ad Habar Gidir, a Hawiye clan.

In September, the US was drawn into the rivalry when Galmudug authorities accused Puntland of duping US forces into carrying out an airstrike on its soldiers, killing 13.

Somalia is in the process of selecting a new parliament, upper house and president in a limited franchise election that involves 14,000 delegates from all regional states, including Galmudug and Puntland.

Political tensions have been rising and threats from the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants have increased in the runup to the delayed vote, originally due in August.

The Shabaab has fought to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2007, losing control of the capital in 2011 before losing other bastions.

 

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