Painful push for recognition

 SOMALILAND/Dianna Games AN OLD MIG fighter plane is mounted on a plinth in the centre of Hargeisa, capital of the breakaway Somaliland republic. It is a stark reminder of the civil war fought more than a dec- ade ago in which about 50000 died.

The city itself was flattened by repeated bombing sorties by the forces of then Somali president Siad Barre.

After the war, Somalilanders decided to go it alone. They took a devastated territory and made it into a peaceful democracy in what many of them refer to as a "rough neighbourhood".

Recently, that peace has been shaken by the murder of three foreign workers in two separate incidents.

On October 5, Italian doctor Annalena Tonelli was killed outside the hospital she founded in Borama, a town on the border with Ethiopia. Last week, two British teachers working for an aid agency were killed by unidentified gunmen. A number of arrests have been made but no motive has yet been identified.

The first murder could have been dismissed as a random killing but the second, soon afterwards, suggests a pattern. There are fears it may be the work of Islamic fundamentalists or possibly a politically motivated plot to undermine Somaliland's bid for international recognition as an independent country.

The nation's peaceful record has been a crucial pillar in its tireless efforts to gain recognition. Its hard-won peace is noteworthy. The long process of demobilising armed militias and re-employing them into state security functions is a major success story.

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