Al-Shabaab Claims Port Town in Puntland Region
Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab has seized a small port town in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
Garad is the latest in a series of small towns claimed by the Islamist militant group as it makes a resurgence across the Horn of Africa nation. Most of the residents have fled the town, according to local authorities, who have condemned the siege.
Garad town captured
“Al-Shabaab fighters with several boats captured Garad town,” Hassan Mohamed, governor for Mudug region of Puntland told Reuters. “We do not want to say publicly how we will react.”
Local authorities also told the publication that foreign Shabaab fighters warned local elders many places would be captured and non-Muslims attacked, adding that “most of the residents have fled”. He also revealed the militant group has been building forces in the Galgala Hills, as previous reports from authorities in the region had suggested.
Another port town in Puntland
Al-Shabaab also controls Haradhere, another port town in the Puntland region, which declared itself autonomous in 1991. Reports from residents over the weekend said a curfew was imposed on Sunday night and increased activity at the port was noticeable. There has been speculation that Al-Shabaab is attempting to smuggle weapons and more foreign fighters into the country via Puntland.
The northern Puntland coastline runs along the southern coast of Yemen, where Al-Qaeda is active and conflict continues to thrive. Al-Shabaab has strong links with Al-Qaeda and securing a presence along the Puntland coast could establish a fast-track route between the two extremist groups.
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