Huge Fire Destroys Commercial Hub in Breakaway Somali Region

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A fire that destroyed the main market in the capital of the breakaway republic of Somaliland may have caused $2 billion in damage, the city’s mayor said.

The cause of the fire in Wahen market, the city’s main commercial hub in Hargeisa and home to thousands of shops and stalls, isn’t yet known. The mayor, Abdikarin Ahmed Moge, spoke to reporters on Saturday night, a day after the blaze began.

“The fire had broken out in the early hours of Friday evening,” Mahmud Mahad, a local police officer, said in a telephone interview. It “immediately spread all over the market. It was disastrous. The market was completely destroyed.”

At least two dozen people were injured in the fire, the Guardian reported.

Somaliland, once a British protectorate, declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 and remained relatively peaceful as the nation erupted into civil war.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Saturday that he was “saddened” by the fire’s destruction and pledged to “do what we can to support Somaliland’s rebuilding effort.”

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