Clashes displace hundreds of families in Somaliland

At least 700 families in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland have been displaced following clashes between two clans over ownership of Elberdale farmland in Gabiley region, local officials said.



Seven people were reportedly killed in the 10-12 July clashes between militiamen of Hared and Mohamoud Nour clans.



Elabe Mohamoud Hufane, the deputy mayor of Dilla in Awdal region, told IRIN between 400 and 500 families were displaced in his region alone.



"These families are now without shelter and they lost a significant number of their livestock during the clashes," Hufane said. "We know two persons were killed in the conflict and five others were injured; four are missing."



The latest clashes marked the fourth time armed conflict has broken out in the Elberdale farmland in the past six months between the Hared and Mohamoud Nour clans. The two are claiming ownership of the land and efforts to resolve the dispute have so far failed.



Khadra H. Gaydh, the deputy mayor of Gabiley, said more than 400 families in the area had been displaced and that government officials had confirmed five deaths although witnesses on the ground put the figure at 11.



A villager who requested anonymity said: "Four people were killed after they were kidnapped on 12 July and seven others were killed in the conflict."


''We cannot risk [the lives] of our staff in the area because of the instability''

Following the clashes, Halo Trust - an NGO undertaking demining in the area - suspended its operations in Ruqi, near the Elberdale farmland.



"We cannot risk [the lives] of our staff in the area because of the instability," a field official said, requesting anonymity.



The farmers among those displaced expressed concern for their livelihoods, saying they had fled during the planting season.



"We lost the first planting season in the early Gu [long rains] and now we are forced to flee during the current planting season," Omar Aden told IRIN.



The latest fighting followed a meeting between Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin and the Gabiley elders over the dispute.



Calling for peace, the presidency appealed to clan elders from both sides to broker a ceasefire.



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