Somalia: Troops seize 'last insurgent outpost' in Galgala: Puntland general
Oct 21, 2010 - 9:35:36 PM

Security forces loyal to Somalia's Puntland government have seized the last jungle outpost used by fleeing insurgents in northern Somalia, Radio Garowe reports.

Puntland's top General Saeed Mohamed Hersi "Saeed Dheere" held a press conference deep in the jungles of Bari region, where he stated that government forces had seized a key insurgent hideout.

Addressing reporters, Gen. Saeed Dheere said: "As you all know, there have been ongoing military operations against these insurgents. We temporarily stopped the operations to give any insurgent seeking forgiveness to quit as we taught them a lesson in previous operations. But they [insurgents] continued bombings against our civilians…so the Puntland government made a strong decision to eradicate insurgents from the region, God willing."

He detailed military operations that began on Oct. 17, whereby Puntland government forces entered and seized several villages including Dhagah Barur, Dhagahdheer, and Dindigle, which Puntland's top general said was the "last outpost" used by Al Shabaab insurgents hiding out in the Galgala area and led by Mohamed Said Atom, a wanted fugitive in Puntland and the United States.

Gen. Saeed Dheere told reporters: "This war is against the religious thieves who call themselves Al Shabaab who are terrorists. There is no clan who was attacked. There are select individuals who say 'clans were attacked, gold was exploited' . There are no hidden agendas, or targeted clans or anyone who is being done wrong specifically. I want to make very clear that the troops involved in Puntland military operations include natives from Galgala."

Gen. Saeed Dheere, who is a former head of Somali army under the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu, said he expects the Puntland government to provide assistance and political direction for local communities in order to finalize the three-month Puntland war against Al Shabaab insurgents led by Atom.

"We expect the Puntland government to manage the situation of all people who fled during the military operations…We expect the local clan elders to include themselves in the ongoing political process in Puntland. We pray that Allah first, and the  government second, help us bring development to the conflict areas used by Al Shabaab and for local communities to have a say on security matters," Puntland's top army commander said.

Mr. Atom, who held press conferences during previous battles with Puntland troops, has not addressed the media in recent months. His whereabouts are not clear, but government sources say Puntland counter-terrorism specialists are actively engaged in dismantling the remaining shells of Atom's terror network.

In recent weeks, bombers have targeted civilian centers like radio stations in major population areas like Bossaso. Puntland security sources believe the insurgents are resorting to soft targets like radio stations due to the ongoing security crackdown in many parts of Puntland that includes military operations in Galgala and major investigations in Bossaso, Garowe and other towns.

Galgala is an area 60km southwest of Bossaso, Puntland's commercial hub located along Gulf of Aden shores. Puntland's government has accused militants linked to Al Shabaab who hideout in the Galgala area of being responsible for a string of bombings and assassinations in Puntland's major towns such as Bossaso.

Puntland military operations began in early August after Al Shabaab insurgents hiding out in Galgala attacked a Puntland army post south of Bossaso on 26 July 2010.

Located in northeastern Somalia, Puntland has been a regional autonomy since 1998 and routinely holds peaceful elections for state leadership.