Forces of semi-autonomous regional state of Puntland killed 20 Al-Shabab fighters in deadly battle in the village of Suuj northern Somalia, Puntland Information Minister Mohamud Hassan said Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference in the State capital of Garowe, Hassan indicated that they had defeated Al-Shabaab fighters who days ago landed in Gara’ad town and seized it for some few hours.
“We are in heavy battle with Al-Shabaab terrorist group in the two regions. Our defense forces are fighting with them and have killed 20 of the militants. Some are hiding in holes but we will end the on-going battle within 72 hours,” Hassan said.
Amnesty for Al-Shabaab fighters
The minister said the government of Puntland would offer amnesty to the fighters if they surrender to the government forces.
“We also call on Al-Shabaab leaders and the youth who have been misled to join the group to surrender to our forces. We will give them amnesty,” Hassan said.
Nugal governor Omar Abdullahi whose region was affected by the clashes between Puntland forces and Al-Shabaab fighters, said Puntland forces would eventually defeat the terrorists who entered the region by sea.
“Puntland Security and Defense forces responded to the attacks by a group of Al-Shabaab who stormed Garmal and Suuj areas in Dangoroyo district in Nugal region. We will definitely defeat the terrorists,” Faraweyne said.
Puntland security minister Abdi Hersi Ali Tuesday said the federal government was intent at forcing Puntland to accept the 4.5 clan based electoral model adopted in January by sponsoring Al-Shabaab to attack some parts of the state. “We shall defend Puntland by ourselves and I urge people of Puntland to be ready. These militants used the Hobyo-Harardere route and the Federal government is part of this,” said Ali.
Somali government refutes Puntland accusation
Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte, who is currently in London, Wednesday dismissed the accusations of Puntland government, terming it as ‘unfortunate’.
‘’First of all, no relation exists between us [government] and Al-Shabaab, such statement is just unfortunate. We should rather work closely on security matters,’’ said Arte.
Meanwhile the militants reportedly were heading to Galgala mountain ranges in Bari region where Al-Shabaab de facto leader Abdulkadir Mumin announced last year the group’s allegiance to ISIL based.
Mainstream Al-Shabaab launched a purgatory against elements affiliated to ISIL last year killing a number of them and silencing the group before reports emerge again of their activities.
Al-Shabaab has on many occasions launched deadly attacks on military bases, government offices and hotels in southern and central Somalia. Late last month the group claimed the responsibility of the deadly explosions in Mogadishu and Baidoa towns that killed over sixty people.