Somalia: Somaliland forces intensify anti-terror operations in Burao
Oct 25, 2010 - 9:58:48 AM

Authorities in the self-declared separatist region in northwestern Somalia called "Somaliland" have intensified security operations in search of a suspected terrorist leader wanted in neighboring Puntland region of Somalia a day after Somali news agency Garowe Online reported the terrorist is hiding in parts of Somaliland, Radio Garowe reports.

Garowe Online has reported that Mohamed Said Atom, leader of a group of insurgents in Galgala hilly area whom Puntland officials accuse of being a member of Al Shabaab terror organization, hiding in Burao town of Somaliland.

Puntland troops have seized the last insurgent outpost in the hilly jungles of Galgala, according to the region's top army commander, Gen. Saeed Dheere.

READ: Al Shabaab rebel Atom 'hiding in Somaliland': Report

Mr. Abdirahman Fohle, the Somaliland-appointed Burao police chief, told reporters in Burao on Sunday that security forces are conducting raids on houses and arresting suspected linked to Al Shabaab, a terror group waging a violent insurgency to topple the Western-backed interim government in Mogadishu since 2007.

"We have arrested several suspects," Mr. Fohle told reporters in Burao, a town long suspected of hosting Al Shabaab elements and serving as a transit hub for insurgents traveling from Western and Arab countries to southern Somalia to join Al Shabaab insurgents.

Mr. Fohle denied reports that Mr. Atom is currenty hiding in Somaliland, particularly in Burao area, but added: "We will arrest him or anyone else who is a threat to regional security."

Somaliland police have urged Burao residents to "report" any activities.

Located in northwestern Somalia, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally to date.