President of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Gaas Thursday said the war against the terrorist groups is in its “Beginning Stage” and that People of Puntland should cooperate with the armed forces in countering terrorism.
Paying a tour to Puntland forces in the frontline in Gara’ad and other coastal villages alongside the Indian Ocean shores, the president commended the army for the victory over Al-Shabaab in weeklong combat.
Somali Islamist militants briefly held a port town of Gara’ad in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland mid this month before withdrawing early next day following offensives from Puntland forces.
Puntland said to have killed to have killed over 200 hundreds Al-Shabab fighters and 55 others in Suuj and several in Gara’ad district after boatloads of Al-Shabaab were armed to teeth landed in Gara’ad town mid this month.
On Wednesday, Puntland Defense forces chief, Saeed Mohamed Hirsi
‘’The operations against the terrorists were completed in a very successful fashion. A total of 208 militants were killed and 46 others were detained. We lost 20 soldiers.’’ Puntland Defense forces chief, Saeed Mohamed Hirsi said Wednesday.
He added that the army also seized a large deal of ammunition and heavy weapons such as RPGs, explosive devices, and communication tools, which were displayed to the media.
Puntland, which occupies a region of northeastern Somalia, declared itself to be an autonomous state in 1998 but remains under the purview of the Somali federal government. It borders the breakaway state of Somaliland, which declared independence following the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre in 1991.
Puntland lies outside the area of operation of the African Union mission in Somalia—known as AMISOM—which deploys some 22,000 troops in the Horn of Africa state. AMISOM and the Somali National Army drove Al-Shabab out of its strongholds in southern Somalia in 2015, but the group has since reportedly moved northwards into parts of Puntland.