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Monday, November 30, 2015

Somalia regional states urged to de-escalate tensions

MOGADISHU, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The international community has condemned renewed outbreak of hostilities in the northern Somali city of Galkayo, and called on all parties to immediately ceasefire and open dialogue to find a peaceful solution to the underlying issues.

The UN, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the EU, the U.S., Britain, Sweden and Italy expressed deep concern about the fighting in the two regional states following an outbreak of fighting on Nov. 22 that has so far left at least 15 people dead and over 30 others injured.

"We call on the leadership of Puntland and Galmudug to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue and work together to assist civilians who have been displaced by the recent fighting," they said in a joint statement received in Mogadishu Monday.

"We also urge these leaders to instruct their security forces to stand down and conduct an orderly withdrawal from the line of division separating the northern and southern districts of Galkayo city in order to prevent further bloodshed,"said the statement.

Hundreds of civilian residents have fled Galkayo and environs over renewed hostilities between the security forces of Puntland and Galmudug, which remain in a dangerous standoff, despite a ceasefire that was brokered by elders last week.

"We welcome the initiative of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to de-escalate mounting tensions and find a peaceful solution, and we urge both sides to cooperate with him," it said. "We also commend the efforts of elders from northern and southern Galkayo vowed to restore calm and avert another outbreak of fight."

Sharmarke and his delegation of ministers arrived in the autonomous region Sunday and vowed to ensure a lasting solution is found.

The PM said he will not leave the northern town of Galkayo without restoring calm, noting that he was disappointed by the clashes which had cost lives.

"I express my dismay at the occurrence of armed clashes in Galkayo over the last few days which has both directly and indirectly affected many," he told journalists late on Sunday.

"We will not depart until we see the public who fled town because of this returning to their homes and the return of solid stability," Sharmarke added.

The border, which divides the regional capital city of Galkayo, is contested between Puntland and Galmudug, and has been rocked by inter-clan violence since 1993, although an official line of control was established in a peace agreement in 2011.

The clashes between rival forces began on Nov. 22 when militiamen from the Barahley area of Galkayo, in the Galmudug-controlled southern part of the city, exchanged fire with Puntland's security forces, leaving 10 dead.

The two warring sides clashes on Saturday in Galkayo town in Mudug region, which is controlled by the two administrations, Galmudud in southern parts and Puntland in northern parts.

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