A massive fire erupted at a key market in the border town of Tog Wajaale, Somaliland, on Saturday evening, destroying hundreds of shops, severely impacting businesses, and likely causing ongoing transport and business disruptions, authorities said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Republic of Somaliland, confirmed the incident on its official Twitter account. “No casualties have been reported, but the damage to the market is extensive,” the ministry said. The market in Wajaale is a strategic gateway for trade between Ethiopia and Somaliland, accounting for almost 80% of the trade between the two countries.
The cause of the fire was not immediately confirmed, and authorities did not report any casualties. However, the incident forced hundreds of businesses to scramble to salvage goods before they were destroyed. The blaze heightened security in the area, leading to disruptions in transportation and businesses that are likely to persist even after the fire is extinguished and firefighters vacate the scene.
Authorities have urged residents and travellers to avoid the incident site until the blaze is extinguished and the scene is vacated. Those with respiratory illnesses or conditions leading to increased risk from smoke exposure should consider remaining indoors.
The fire in Tog Wajaale adds to a series of market fires that have plagued the region in recent years, causing significant economic and social disruption. In April 2022, a fire at the Waheen Market in Hargeisa caused an estimated $2 billion in damages, destroying 2,000 businesses and affecting over 17,000 workers. Fires also occurred at the Taywanka Market in Jigjiga, a town in eastern Ethiopia’s Somali region, in July and at Mogadishu’s main market, Bakara, in January.