Witnesses say police kill 2 in Somaliland election protests

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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Police fired on opposition protesters Thursday in Somaliland amid tensions over the upcoming election, and local authorities and a witness say at least two people were killed and several others wounded.

Witness Idris Hassan told The Associated Press that one person was killed in the capital, Hargeisa, after the demonstrators clashed with security forces. The governor of the Sanaag region, Ahmed Abdi Muse, told local media that one civilian died when police dispersed a protest in the town of Erigavo.

The protests occurred in major towns across Somaliland, the northern region that separated from Somalia three decades ago and seeks recognition as an independent country. They were called by the two main opposition parties, UCID and Wadani, which have asked President Muse Bihi Abdi not to delay the presidential election scheduled for Nov. 13.

The opposition parties are concerned about the management of the election and the registration of political organizations. The Somaliland government allowed the protests to occur in six regions but in limited areas, which the parties opposed.

Internet service was briefly cut off in Somaliland on Thursday morning.

The government has not commented on the reports of dead and wounded, which opposition party leaders also asserted in remarks to local media.

The U.S. Embassy in Somalia said it “strongly” urged Somaliland’s ruling and opposition leaders to avoid violence in demonstrations and “return quickly to political dialogue.” It warned that a failure to agree on the election threatens Somaliland’s “achievements in democratic governance.”

The head of the British Office in Hargeisa, Lizzie Walker, also urged peace and dialogue.

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