Somalia: Puntland presents '18 Al Shabaab prisoners' from Galkayo counterterrorism operations 8 Sep 8, 2011 - 5:11:46 PM
Police authorities in Somalia's Puntland region have presented to the media 18 prisoners whom the government says are members of Al Shabaab terrorist group, Radio Garowe reports.
Col. Abdullahi Salah Nadarre, Puntland Deputy Police Commissioner
Col. Abdullahi Salah Nadarre, deputy police chief of Puntland, told a press conference Thursday at the Puntland police headquarters in Garowe that the 18 Al Shabaab members were arrested during counter-terrorism operations and fighting in Galkayo.
According to a Puntland Ministry of Security press release, some of the prisoners were “arrested at a house in Garsoor neighborhood of Galkayo,” while the other prisoners were “arrested as they engaged in face-to-face combat against Puntland government forces.”
Puntland officials say the prisoners, and other prisoners at Galkayo jails, are responsible for committing “acts of terrorism across Puntland and targeting community leaders and government officials.”
Puntland officials say Garsoor neighborhood of Galkayo has become a source of insecurity: “In recent years, Garsoor neighborhood has become a base of operations where assassinations and bombings are organized,” read the Ministry's statement.
18 Al Shabaab prisoners at Puntland jail
Independent sources in Galkayo tell Somali news agency Garowe Online that Puntland officials and many Galkayo residents believe that Al Shabaab members were hiding in Garsoor neighborhood.
On Sep. 1, Puntland intelligence officers came to a house in Garsoor to arrest and question terror suspects but faced armed resistance. Two consecutive days of fighting erupted thereafter, with Puntland officials saying they killed dozens of Al Shabaab militants.
One security official confidentially told Garowe Online that Al Shabaab group’s violence in Puntland “hides under clan name.” In 2010, Puntland troops dismantled Al Shabaab bases in Galgala mountains area, but propaganda spread that Puntland government forces were fighting against clan militias in Galgala.
“A similar method is being used in Garsoor issue,” said the Puntland security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Al Shabaab wishes to hide under clan name and emotional people, motivated by tribalism, assist the terrorists’ propaganda by labeling the terrorist fighters as clan militia, which is completely untrue.”
In recent days, community leaders of the Leelkase clan (of Darod), a community that resides in a part of Garsoor neighborhood, have held extensive talks with Puntland officials and other community leaders.
“The prisoners we present to you today belong to various clans of Somalia, as you can see from their regions of origin where they were born,” said Puntland Deputy Police Commissioner, Col. Nadarre, addressing reporters at Thursday's press conference.
Puntland’s government officials have repeatedly stated that Al Shabaab terrorists hide among the IDP communities. Most of the IDP communities in Puntland hail from Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions.
According to the prisoner list, 10 out of the total 18 prisoners hail from Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions.