Pro-Islamic State fighters have remained in control of their first big town in northern Somalia for more than a week, local administration has said.
Jamaa Mohamed Kuurshe, the District Commissioner of Qandala in the Bari region has confirmed that fighters loyal to the group known as Daesh are still in the area days after reports emerged that they have withdrawn from the town.
Kuurshe who is now in Bosaaso, said he is receiving reports from residents of the town who fled their house using boats.
“I am in Bosaaso. There is still the presence of Daesh fighters in the town and a few residents. A lot of people have been displaced who have already arrived in Bosaaso and other areas,“ Kuurshe said.
He noted the presence of warships in the waters of Qandala who as he said are monitoring the situation.
Early last week, the residents in the town said that about 70 fighters entered the town and hoisted their flag on top of the police station and another historical building.
During the past year, Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin’s group has been busy evading attacks by rival militants from Al-Shabab, while also seeking recruits and finding a space to grow, according military experts.
Qandala is a strategic port town facing the coastal towns of Yemen and the former Somali government built one of its biggest fish factories in the town.
Qandala town dates back to the 1850s, according to Somali historians. It has a beautiful beach, 20 kilometers of sand dunes along the sea, and rich fishing grounds.