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Deadly clashes erupt in Somalia’s Puntland

At least 10 people have been killed in gun battles outside parliament in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland between local security forces and pro-opposition troops, police and witnesses said.

The fierce clashes in the state capital, Garowe, erupted on Tuesday, amid a political dispute over a controversial amendment to the constitution, which the opposition politicians said is a bid for an “illegal” term extension by the Puntland state President Said Abdullahi Deni.

Garowe is located 915 kilometres from the Somali capital Mogadishu.

A senior security official confirmed over the phone the crossfire and death toll, which included Abdifitah Warsame Rooti, the commander of Puntland’s presidential guard in the town of Qardho, according to Anadolu Agency.

An eyewitness and businessman, Abdullahi Hassan from Garowe, told Anadolu over the phone that both sides used heavy weapons, forcing businesses to close down briefly.

“Though brief, the fighting was heavy, and some families in the town started fleeing,” he said.

PM calls for dialogue

The state parliament made an announcement on Tuesday, approving the amendment to the constitution. Only 35 of the 66 state parliamentarians attended the meeting.

“After a long discussion and analysis by the members of the assembly, 34 members voted in favour, one member opposed, and no one was silent, and thus the proposal to amend the constitution became valid,” said the parliament.

In a video sent to journalists, Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre expressed condolences to the families of those who died in Tuesday’s fighting in Garowe.

Barre urged Puntland leaders and the opposition to end the conflict “immediately” and called for dialogue to resolve the dispute “rather than the barrel of a gun”.

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