ISIS seizes key area in Somalia's Puntland after battle

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ISIS has been operating in Puntland since 2015 and clashed with Al-Shabaab in mountains of Bari [File Photo]

GAROWE, Puntland - In what could be a show of their presence in Somalia, the ISIS extremists late last night captured a strategic town in Puntland, a move that could ignite tough battles with security forces in the Federal State which is facing a terrorist threat.

According to reports, the ISIS fighters captured Balidhidin town in the Bari region, becoming the first city in years to fall to the militants, whose presence in Puntland has been expanding according to analysts. The militants are mostly domiciled in the Golis mountains.

During the raid, authorities said, the militants killed District Commissioner Ahmed Mohamed besides injuring a civilian. It's not clear why they eliminated the commissioner but the militants have often targeted security forces and senior government officials.

The fighters stormed the city at around 20:00 hours, ransacking government premises before taking over the town. Authorities in Puntland have condemned the attack which is the latest terrorist incident in the region.

But over the past months, Puntland Security Forces [PSF] have been intensifying crackdown against both Al-Shabaab and ISIS extremists across the state, even managing to destroy their camps besides capturing a number of them.

Dozens of the militants have also been killed in the process. Particularly, the security forces have managed to eliminate foreign fighters working with IS-Somalia extremists, who have been training locals in parts of Puntland according to intelligence reports.

The IS-Somalia has tried to develop a base in Puntland but they have been getting resistance from the rival Al-Shabaab group. The two groups have often clashed, almost giving security forces an advantage in the fight against the militants.

President Said Abdullahi Deni, the president of Puntland, has also signed various security pacts with other states especially Galmadug, in what will further help in the fight against violent extremism within Somalia.

GAROWE ONLINE

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