Puntland forces kill 10 militants as US army strikes again in Somalia
BOSSASO, Puntland - At least 10 Al-Shabaab militants were on Friday killed in northeastern Somalia's Puntland by Special Forces with three others were captured, in one of the most dramatic operations in as many months targeting Al-Shabaab militants.
Friday's operation is the second in as many months and it brought the total of those killed within a month to 30. A fortnight ago, the US forces in cooperation with Puntland forces killed at least 20 militants in Golis mountains including a senior foreign fighter who was working with ISIS-Somalia militants.
According to Puntland Maritime Police Force [PMPF], Friday's operation targeted Habar Hunbulo Valley in Almadow mountains within the Bari region where the Al-Shabaab militants have been training. Parts of the vast coastal region have been save hideouts for both Al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia due to limited human activities in the region.
The forces said that dozens were captured during the operation and would be arraigned in court as part of traditional practices to ensure they are given a fair hearing. Unlike in the past, the operation was solely carried out by the Puntland security forces.
The death of the ten militants and subsequent capturing of dozens of others are in line with the ongoing security operations across Somalia. In recent months, the militants have been making inroads in Puntland, one of the most progressive and peaceful federal state of Somalia.
Elsewhere, the US Africa Command announced the 44th airstrike this year in Somalia, adding that it targeted Al-Shabaab militants in Kurtun Warey on August 20. One terrorist who has a history of working with explosives, was making preparations to emplace Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs] on a public road, was later killed.
“Al-Shabaab continues to put Somali people in danger by ruthlessly attempting to place explosive devices in public areas,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joel Tyler, AFRICOM director of operations. “These extremists continue to terrorize Somali citizens without regard for their safety.”
According to an initial assessment done by the command, one motorbike was also destroyed during the operation. The U.S. Africa Command currently assesses no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike, added the statement that was issued on Friday.
"Together with partner and allied forces, U.S. Africa Command works on a daily basis to improve security conditions to enhance governance and economic development while preventing al-Shabaab's desire to expand their reach and further export violence," the US said in a statement.
Since the beginning of this year, the frequent airstrikes have now leftover 80 militants dead in central and southern Somalia according to official statistics by the command. But it's the ground combats conducted by Somali National Army [SNA] and AMISOM forces that have left hundreds of the militants dead.
Al-Shabaab still remains one of the major security threats in Somalia despite the fact that it has been significantly neutralized by allied forces. This year alone, they have conducted over 100 operations including the recent attack at Elite Hotel and April 12 military base in Mogadishu.
On Thursday, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked international partners to continue supporting Somali security forces, adding that there is an urgent need for capacity-building and training to help in the fight against the Al-Shabaab militants.
"I condemn attacks by Al-Shabaab on Somali civilians, security forces, AMISOM, the United Nations and the international community," he told the United Nations Security Council during the submission of quarterly reports on security matters across the world.
"I call upon international partners to continue to extend support to the Somali security sector through training and capacity-building, as well as contributions to the trust fund in support of the Somali security forces, including through funding earmarked for the training, equipping and mentoring of Somali security forces to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices."