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Northern Somalia Fighters Claim to Capture Town

02 October 2007

The breakaway republic of Somaliland says it has captured a disputed town after clashes with fighters from Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region.

Somaliland's defense minister said Tuesday that his fighters have captured the town of Los Anod and killed six fighters from Puntland.

The defense minster says Somaliland fighters wounded 20 Puntland soldiers and took 24 others prisoner.

The Associated Press quotes Puntland's deputy information minister as saying those claims are a "fabrication."

On Monday, residents of northern Somalia reported at least five people had been killed in Los Anod in fighting between forces loyal to the rival regional governments.

Puntland and Somaliand have engaged in periodic battles over which side controls the Sool and Sanag regions.

Last week, officials from the United Nations, World Bank and other institutions working in Somalia expressed concern about rising tension between the sides.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been internationally recognized. Puntland has maintained formal ties to Somalia but generally runs its own affairs.

Both areas have remained relatively peaceful compared to the anarchy in southern Somalia since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre 16 years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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