At 14 soldiers from Galmudug state were killed Wednesday night and nine others injured in what sources say it was helicopter gunship fire from US forces in central Somalia sparking bitter exchanges between Puntland and Galmudug.
Mudug deputy governor Ahmed Mohamed Shire whose region is under Galmudug confirmed the attack and accused Puntland of giving false information to US forces to hit the soldiers who were in their military base.
“Puntland officials directed US planes to destroy our military base in Jehdin villages killing 14 and wounding nine others,” Shire told Goobjoog News.
A soldier who survived the attack told Goobjoog News that at least 9 pickup vehicles full of soldiers and military planes attacked them. “At the beginning we sighted military vehicles approaching our direction; we started our cars and tried to withdraw, but we are attacked from air. They used against us same cruise missile which killed Adan Hashi Araw [Alshabab top commender killed by US airstrike In Dusamareb town of Galgadud region in 2007]” said Duran Said Elmi.
Pictures from the scene show destroyed military vehicles covered with blood stains. Sources told Goobjoog News correspondent in the area the nature of the damage could point to helicopter gunships though the US has largely been deploying drone strikes against Al-Shabaab.
But Puntland has refuted the claims noting the shelling was targeting Al-Shabaab base in the region.
Abdinasir Bedel Khalif a media liaison officer for Puntland state in Mudug region said the attack was aimed at Al-Shabaab militants, a case corroborated by a Puntland police colonel Abdullahi Nur.
“Puntland security forces launched a planned attack last night. We killed over a dozen militants and destroyed their vehicles,” Colonel Abdullahi Nur told Reuters.
There are no immediate commends from the US regarding the airstrike. The US has been working with Somali elite forces in bombing Al-Shabaab bases and eliminating their figureheads with major operations in southern Somalia.