Dozens killed in clashes between military, Shabaab militants in Somalia's Puntland

Published 08.06.2017 13:21
Updated 08.06.2017 13:24

A dawn raid by militants on a military camp in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on Thursday left at least 10 soldiers dead, security officials said.

Al Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group, claimed the attack saying it had killed 61 soldiers at the Af-Urur military base close to Golis Mountains, a well-known terrorist hideout.

"Al Shabaab attacked Af Urur town this morning. There were few soldiers there and thus al Shabaab captured the town. It is difficult to know the casualties because the telecommunications were cut off," Bari region governor Yusuf Mohamed told Reuters.

"Shabaab militants attacked the Puntland military base near Galgala. The security forces have repelled them but there were some casualties," told Ahmed Abdiweli, a local security official, to AFP. He gave a figure of 10 dead and "several others" wounded. "The militants also suffered heavy casualties and they have lost many of their fighters," he added.

Another officer speaking to Reuters put the death toll at 20, adding that Puntland forces managed to retake the town after intense fighting.

In a statement, the Shabaab said it had launched the raid killing scores of soldiers and stealing vehicles and weapons.

"The number could rise since the operation is still underway," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military spokesman said.

Neither side's figures could be independently verified but residents reported heavy fighting.

"The fighting in Af-Urur was very intense this morning. There are dead bodies and wounded soldiers being brought to the hospital," said Hussein Dirie, an elder.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, to the south.

Different militant groups are active in Puntland, including one that split from the Shabaab in 2016 pledging allegiance to the Daesh group. Last month it claimed its first suicide bombing, killing at least five people in the port town of Bossaso.

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