As Reported HERE
BRITISH NAVY IN DANGEROUS ACTION OFF NORTHERN COAST OF SOMALIA
AFRICA 11 July 2011. British Royal Navy warship entangled in domestic affairs skirmish.
A British warship allegedly having the commander of the Somaliland navy and some of his soldiers on board attracted on Saturday serious military fire when it came close to the shore off Laasqoray, the coastal town of Warsangeliland at the Somali shores of the Gulf of Aden. From the foreign warship reportedly one amphibious vessel and two commando boats were launched with the intent to land on the beach.
Local officials, observers and media reported the incident as an unprecedented provocation and attack on the sovereignty of Somalia and specifically of the Warsangeli territory.
Reports indicated earlier last week that a British warship had come to Somaliland’s port city of Berbera where President Ahmed Silanyo reportedly met British officials on board the vessel.
The ship is believed to be a patrol ship that is part of the western-led anti-piracy initiatives along the coasts of Somalia.
While neither EU NAVFOR nor the British navy reported the incident, security forces of Somalia’s breakaway region of Puntland confirmed that they had fired towards a British warship near the coast.
The political background is the long-standing fight between the former British colony of Somaliland in the Northwest of Somalia, which today prefers to be an independent, though internationally not recognized breakaway republic and Puntland, the federal regional state of Somalia, located to the north-east.
Between these two blocks, the land of the Warsangeli and further south the Dulbahante homeland form a buffer zone, which regularly sees skirmishes over the control for these areas, which also contain oil- and other mineral concessions, being fought over between the two blocks.
Somaliland and Puntland are engaged in this long-standing border dispute particularly along the borders of the Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn regions located in the central north of Somalia since 1992.
The latest incident now involved a British naval vessel on a mission with an obviously pro-Somaliland agenda which was countered by forces loyal to the Puntland government as well as by those of the local Warsangeli governance.
The provincial commissioner of Sanaag region, Mohamud Dabayl said the war ship sailed towards Laasqoray, a strategic port town in the North of Somalia which is part of a territory disputed by the Puntland and Somaliland authorities.
"The ship appeared to have been misdirected and its captain may have been told that Laasqoray would be part of Somaliland. It was sailing towards Laasqoray” Dabayl told the local media in Bosaso.
He said Puntland authorities fired warning shots after it emerged that the warship entered their territory without prior notification, an issue regional officials said is a violation of territorial sovereignty and international law.
“Our security forces fired warning shots towards the ship because it was sailing through the coast of Puntland. The warning was to tell the crew that they were not in the territorial waters of Somaliland” he added.
According to the local Hiraan media, the regional commissioner said Puntland security personnel had arrested one person from the ship who was waving the flag of the self declared republic of Somaliland at the time when the warning shots were fired.
Local observers reported that though heavier weapons including RPGs and also small arms fire were directed against the British naval contingent and three of the Somaliland soldiers, who had landed from the British ship on the beach, were arrested, nobody got hurt.