Doctor: Hospital in disputed Somaliland city shelled, 1 dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — At least one person was killed and several were injured when the main hospital in a disputed city in East Africa’s Somaliland region came under mortar fire during an upsurge of violence Tuesday, a doctor said.
Dr. Ahmed Abdi told The Associated Press by phone from Las-Anod that four shells struck the hospital. He said some of the eight people wounded were in critical condition. Two of the hospital’s three ambulances were destroyed.
Among the wounded were patients recovering from earlier fighting that has killed dozens of people. The hospital faces a shortage of drugs, the doctor said.
Diplomats and humanitarian groups have raised the alarm about the fighting in Las-Anod between security forces of Somaliland, which separated from Somalia three decades ago and seeks international recognition as an independent country, and clan militia who wish to be part of Somalia. More than 185,000 people have been displaced and tens of thousands have fled into Ethiopia, the United Nations says.
In a statement, Somaliland’s defense ministry denied that the army shelled the hospital and described such reports as “fake news” intended to damage the army’s reputation. Somaliland’s government has blamed the unrest on fighters with “anti-peace groups and terrorism” and alleged that the al-Shabab extremist group has supported some attacks.
On Sunday, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, said at least 35 dead people and more than 60 wounded had arrived at the hospital it supports in Las-Anod as “fierce fighting” resumed in the area after attempts at a cease-fire and talks.
“Unfortunately, we learnt of the tragic killing of a colleague today as a result of the indiscriminate violence,” MSF said, and warned that the hospital was approaching its capacity.
“Indiscriminate shelling of civilians is unacceptable and must stop,” the U.N. and international partners said earlier this month. Last week, Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi met with the visiting U.S. deputy chief of mission about the crisis.
Somaliland and the Somali state of Puntland have disputed Las-Anod for years, but the eastern city has been under Somaliland’s control.
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