Clash in Ethiopia-Somalia border town kills at least nine
(25 May 2010)
A clash along the Ethiopian-Somalia border on 21 May has left at least seven civilians and two Ethiopian soldiers dead in the town of Buhudle. According to reports, Ethiopian troops had entered the town two weeks prior and had begun searching vehicles which angered local residents. Tensions quickly escalated and fighting broke out between armed local militias and the Ethiopian troops. The border town of Buhudle is located in the Ayn (or Cayn) district within an area disputed between the two semi-autonomous entities of northern Somalia, including Somaliland to the west and Puntland to the east. The autonomous republic of Somaliland has declared its independence from Somalia but has not been recognised by the international community. Somaliland claims the territory of the former British Somaliland whose boundaries were defined during the colonial period. The autonomous government of Puntland claims several contiguous regions in north-eastern Somalia, including areas within the claimed boundaries of Somaliland. The district of Ayn (or Cayn) is shown by some sources to be an enclave of Puntland administration located within the territory claimed by Somaliland.
While it has been not uncommon for Ethiopian troops to cross the border into south-eastern areas of Somalia to fight Islamic insurgents, this is the first reported incursion into the relatively more stable areas of northern Somalia. Ethiopia has a good relationship with the government of Somaliland and it is still unclear why the Ethiopian troops entered Buhudle. The boundary between Somaliland and Ethiopia was demarcated in the 1920s, but it may no longer be clearly defined on the ground.
Sources: '13 Killed As Residents Clash With Ethiopia Troops in Puntland' Garowe Online/All Africa Global Media, 24 May 2010; 'Ethiopian troops cross border, clash with Somalis' Reuters News, 21 May 2010; 'Twelve killed as Ethiopian forces enter Somali town' Agence France Presse, 21 May 2010.