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Kenya Urges End To Somaliland, Puntland Tension
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Kenya Urges End To Somaliland, Puntland Tension

NAIROBI, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Kenya said on Monday growing tension
between two rival regions of neighboring Somalia could destabilize
talks in Nairobi aimed at bringing peace to the whole of the ruined
Horn of Africa country.

At least two people in Somaliland were killed in fighting between the
forces of Somaliland and its rival Puntland earlier this month.
The two territories have fought sporadic clashes for years over the
ownership of several eastern areas of Somaliland that Puntland's
leaders claim as their own on the basis of ethnicity.

Aid workers have also expressed concern at the tension.

"I would like to call upon both parties to exercise maximum restraint
and shun from plunging the region into a conflict that is clearly
avoidable," Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka told a news

"The tension between the two administrations of Somaliland and
Puntland has potential of degenerating the region into an imminent
confrontation, as well as undermining the positive conclusions of the
ongoing Somali consultative meeting ... and the reconciliation
conference in general."

He was referring to peace efforts that Kenya has hosted for more than
a year aimed at ending bloodshed and chaos in the Horn of Africa
country of more than seven million people.

War and famine have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the past
decade in Somalia, torn apart by rival clan militias since the
overthrow of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Somaliland leaders are not involved in the peace gathering, saying
they have no intention of reuniting Somaliland with the rest of

A former British protectorate, Somaliland split unilaterally from
Somalia in 1991 after a long independence struggle, taking advantage
of the chaos that followed the fall of Barre.

The independence of the normally peaceful enclave has never been
recognized by the international community, something which rankles
with many ordinary people and with the government.

Puntland, currently ruled by Ethiopian-backed military strongman
Abdullahi Yusuf, broke away from Somalia in 1998 to escape the militia
anarchy of southern and central Somalia.

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