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Somalia rival Puntland and Galmudug states confirm ceasefire deal

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia’s rival states of Puntland and Galmudug have renewed their commitment to peace by signing a ceasefire deal on Monday aimed at ending protracted clashes in the central town of Galkayo.

The deal was signed in the Somali capital Mogadishu between President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of Puntland and President Abdikarim Hussein Guled of Galmudug.

Clashes between forces of the rival states, which first broke out in October, has killed more than 45 people including civilians and displaced over 90,000.

By signing the deal, the state presidents agreed to cease hostilities by withdrawing forces from the disputed town and to build confidence between the two state administrations.

They also agreed on the removal of all roadblocks installed by both states and the opening of roads to allow free movement of people and goods.

Galkayo is currently divided into two districts, with Galmudug governing the south and Puntland the north.

The regional leaders agreed in the deal to implement joint training of police from both north and south Galkayo to strengthen security.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appealed to both leaders to immediately implement the agreement with full commitment to ending violence in Galkayo.

The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia has welcomed the move.

"This renewed commitment to peace and confidence building in Galkayo is a critical step to allow a process to resolve underlying issues that are causing the conflict and to build lasting peace," said Michael Keating, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia.

The regional leaders also agreed to meet in Galkayo later this month to support the implementation of these commitments.

Galkayo has been plagued by recurrent clashes between the neighboring federal states over its control.

Clashes have continued in the past months despite a Nov. 1 ceasefire agreement signed by the regional leaders.


At least two killed in twin blasts near Somalia’s African Union base

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- At least two people were killed and several others injured in twin blasts by extremist group Al-Shabaab near the base of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and a luxury hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday.

Mohamed Jama, a police officer at the scene, told Xinhua the first explosion went off near a checkpoint manned by soldiers next to the entrance of the Halane base, which hosts both UN and AU personnel and is close to the airport.

"The first bomb-laden car exploded at a checkpoint near Halane military base and shortly after a truck blew up next to heavily-guarded Peace Hotel," Jama said, adding two people have been confirmed dead.

Located near the Halane base, Peace Hotel is frequented by diplomats and government officials.

Heads of state and government from the East African bloc IGAD held a day-long meeting at the hotel in 2016.

AMISOM spokesman Joe Kibet told Xinhua that a suicide car bomb was detonated at the checkpoint, while AU troops later destroyed another approaching explosive-laden car some 200 meters from the base.

"There were no AMISOM casualties but civilian casualties must have been registered," Kibet said.

Eyewitnesses said at least four people were killed in the two blasts.

Local resident Nasteho Ibrahim, who lives near the scene of the explosions, told Xinhua the blasts were huge.

"The blasts were very heavy and we could feel the impact from our houses shaking," said Ibrahim.

The Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the explosions.

The group has carried out frequent attacks in Somalia in its decade-long fight against the government.


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