Somaliland forces seized control of Tukaraq town in Sool region after heavy fighting erupted in the early hours of Monday morning, Garowe Online reports.

Local residents confirmed to GO the takeover of the town, situated approximately 86Km [53 miles] away from Garowe, the administrative capital of Somalia’s northeastern semi-autonomous Puntland region.A heavy battle between Puntland Defence Forces and Somaliland soldiers broke out after the separatist administration launched a pre-planned raid on Tukaraq, about 30km southwest of Sool regional capital of Las Anod.

The casualties on both sides still remain unknown.

Somaliland declared independence after the overthrow of former Somali military regime in 1991, but, it is not officially recognised as a sovereign state.

The attack on the border town has coincided with President Farmajo’s visit to Garowe, where he arrived on Sunday on a two-day historic visit to Puntland since his election on February 8, 2017.

Sources tell GO that politicians and traditional Elders hailing from Sool region met with the President in the state capital on Sunday night, and asked him to pay a visit to the contested Tukaraq and nearby areas.

Puntland and Somaliland have fought sporadic battles since 2002 over the control of territories mainly in the disputed Sool region.