Galmudug and Puntland forces Thursday morning exchanged artillery fire in the contested town of Galkaayo further escalating tension as more residents flee the area a day after the Federal Government said it would deploy the National Army.
Idale News correspondent in the area said forces from both sides clashed and with heavy combat deploying in the town but the number of casualties remains unknown.
An eye witness told Idale News shelling started when Puntland forces with bulldozers attempted to trench more defence lines.
Federal Government Minister of Information Abdi Hayer Mareye called on the military Wednesday to deploy in the region to avert a full scale clash.
“On behalf of the Prime Minister, I would like to ask Somali military commanders to send all the ready military units to Galkaayo to prevent more clashes,” said the minister.
The two states have perennially clashed leading to deaths, displacement of populations and destruction of property. At least 40 people were killed last year in a deadly clash between the two regions whose enmity renewed in 2014 following the formation of Galmudug state.
Perspective into Puntland-Galmudug differences
In the mid 90s when Somalia was deeply into a vicious civil war, two major warlords who had served in the national army, General Farah Aideed and Col Abdullahi Yusuf signed a pact which would lead to a cessation of hostilities between Galmudug and Puntland for more than ten years.
In the treaty, Aideed’s forces which had control over Galmudug and the larger south-central Somalia would pull out 30 kilometres away from Galkaayo while Yusuf’s forces in the Puntland side would do the same.
Civilians from both sides would easily operate in the buffer-zone with the absence of any military formations or weaponry.
But tension built again after another warlord Ali Abdi Qeybdiid declared Galmudug a new state 2006, a development which did not receive the blessings of the national government. A former ally to Aideed, Qeybdiid failed to adhere to the earlier pact while Puntland also lacked strong leadership to enforce the treaty.
However the official formation of the new Galmudug state as part of the federalization process in 2014 brought to bear the differences between the two regions. Galmudug was formed out of one a half regions; that is Galgadud and half of Mudug whose northern part form Puntland.
In effect therefore the southern part of Galkaayo is in Galmudug while to the north is Puntland. But Puntland vehemently stood its ground during and after the state formation process arguing the whole of Mudug should fall under its jurisdiction.