Puntland's presidential guard commander killed in Galkayo
GAROWE, Puntland - A top presidential guard commander was on Sunday killed by gunmen in Galkayo, a town that divides the border between Puntland and Galmadug states in Somalia with reports linking a local militia to the incident which could raise security concerns.
Col. Osman Omar Mohamed was killed by armed men believed to be a local militia, but the government described them as drug dealers holed up in the Kabista compound in northern Galkayo. Also left dead after the confrontation was another bodyguard, Ahmed Yusuf Abdi, according to a statement by the presidency.
Reports indicate that Col. Osman was killed during an anti-drug operation in the city which targeted a hideout of the criminal elements who are also said to be part of the insecurity across Puntland and Galmadug.
At least one person from the gangs was killed and 4 others were injured during the clashes that began last night and continued until Sunday morning, officials said: "The battle started after the militia rejected calls to surrender their arms and vacate the building of a former factory".
The youthful commander was in charge of President Said Abdullahi Deni's security team and his death could lead to serious security concerns especially for the regional president, who has been at loggerheads with the federal government of Somalia. It is not clear who fired at the top commander.
Some of his responsibilities included ensuring that the presidential motorcade is secured from possible attacks from terrorists. Deni stays on the outskirts of Galkayo and last month, he had a joint trip to the town by Galmadug President Ahmed Abdi Kariye alias Qoor-Qoor after a conference in Dhusamareb.
In recent months, Puntland has been battling with surging cases of terrorism which is also coupled with persistent attacks waged by local militia. The Al-Shabaab militants have struct the federal state several times this year despite the fact that it's one of the most peaceful regions in Somalia.
For instance, in May, suspected Al-Shabaab militants killed Mudug Governor Muse Nur in Galkayo. Before the governor's death, a senior revenue collection officer had been killed by the same militants in Galkayo moments after he left a local mosque.
At Garowe, the regional administrative capital of Puntland, the militants also killed Nugaal Governor Abdisalan Hassan Hersi near a police station in Garowe. Terror incidents have also been reported in several parts of Puntland including Bosaso where regional security officers have been running operations against the militants.
A fortnight ago, the US army, which conducted the first-ever strike against the Al-Shabaab, reportedly killing at least seven terrorists. However, Puntland regional forces, which claimed that over 20 terrorists had been killed, said a senior Pakistani fighter was among casualties.
Deni's government has been backing operations against drug lords and tribal militia who he accuses of undermining security in the state that has been in a struggle to defeat Al-Shabaab and the ISIS-linked militants in Bari province.