Somalia: Al Shabaab moves to new coastal villages in Puntland [Latest]
GAROWE, Somalia-Senior Al Shabaab official has delivered religious sermons in the coastal village of Garmaal following a surprise thrust into Garacad on Monday afternoon, Garowe Online reports.
Residents reached on phone by GO has confirmed that militants travelling in boats entered the small village on Tuesday morning.
Hundreds of fishers flock to Garmaal—a few kilometers off historic Eyl town-- for fishing activities every year.
Al Shabaab official identified as Saacid Karate called on villagers to cooperate with them, claiming that they are only spreading Islam.
Al Qaeda-inspired fighters hoisted their flag in Garacad overnight, local clan elders said.
Militants vacated Garacad in the early hours of Tuesday morning, dividing themselves into groups, according to witnesses.
Locals reported that armed militias on foot took to a road and sneaked through Kulub, an area 10km away from Jariban.
“They are in motion. These men are walking and I can see boats some miles off the coast,” said, elder Ibrahim Yusuf Egal.
Puntland Vice President AbdihakinAbdullahi Haji Omar has meanwhile convened emergency security meeting at the State House to discuss latest developments including Al Shabaab’s sporadic takeovers of areas along the Indian Ocean.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Puntland Security Minister AbdiHirsi Ali (Qarjab) blamed Somalia’s Federal Government (SFG) for fuelling Al Shabaab push in order to distract international attention from the controversial 4.5 power sharing formula.
He said, the government will immediately respond to the militancy emerging afresh in Puntland.
“They [Al Shabaab militants] are afraid of us, that’s why they began withdrawing from [Garacad],” Qarjab told a group of reporters in Garowe.
Somali government officials couldn’t be reached for comments on Puntland allegations.
Around two boatloads have arrived in Garacad on Tuesday in what appears to be latest sign of growing Al Shabaab exodus towards Northeast.
Garacad is situated, 260km on the Indian Ocean side of Galkayo. It is yet unclear whether new wave of disembarking insurgents is aimed for reinforcements.
“Arrival of 600+Al Shabaab in Gara’adMudug reflects lax security policy in Puntland,” tweeted political analyst Yusuf M. Hassan, calling for Puntland government to do more in protecting the public.
Puntland has put all security apparatuses on standby in the wake of Al Shabaab seizure of Garacad and other coastal villages, senior security official told Garowe Online under customary condition of anonymity.