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Somalia: Puntland forces foil base attack, seize explosives in Basaso

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

GAROWE, Puntland - Special Forces from the Puntland security officers foiled a would-be another devastating attack at their own military base, reports indicate, in a rare attack waged by Al-Shabaab militants.

The militants tried to run over the Balikhadar which is located between Galgala mountains and the port city of Bosaso on Thursday night, leading to an intensive gunfight between the two factions, Puntland forces said in a statement.

The clashes left three Al-Shabaab militants dead and one soldier, and it was the first major attack to be launched by the Al-Shabaab, which is trying to maneuver its way to the rather peaceful state in Somalia.

Security has been heightened in the army base following the attack, with the forces combing surrounding villages to ensure all threats to security are detected and acted upon, officials said.

Hours before the attack, the Puntland regional forces seized explosives in the seaside town of Bosaso on Wednesday, the team said in a statement, in an operation that was aimed at pursuing IS-Somalia militants.

During the operation, Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs], Suicide belts and vests, and VBIEDs belonging to the ISIS militants were seized, with the forces also managing to arrest three suspects who are believed to be members of the group.

Authorities in Bosaso are currently interrogating the three suspects for more details as the security extend their operations towards surrounding villages. Puntland is one of the safest states within war-torn Somalia.

"Our forces have managed to seize explosives from a house in Bosaso. We are holding three suspects for interrogation since they are directly linked to the criminal acts," read a statement by the forces on Twitter.

Security of the residents, the forces said, will always be given a priority by the government of President Said Abdullahi Deni. Residents were also urged to work closely with authorities for the sake of improving security.

"The government appreciates cooperation from citizens who are always keen and ready to report mischievous activities. We shall continue responding swiftly once we're called upon," the state army said.

ISIS militants in Somalia are significantly weak and are believed to be doing active recruitment in the northern mountain of Goli. The group has only managed to execute very few attacks which are limited to few villages.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, the group was embroiled in tussles with Al-Shabaab, the main terror group within Somalia. This led to the death of dozens and defections, further weakening the militants.

Recently, President Deni assured residents of improved security after a bomb explosion within Garowe, the regional administrative capital of Puntland, which left Nugal Governor Abdisalam Hassan Hersi dead.

He also executed administrative changes within the police, saying that "we need to be vigilant and competitive. Terrorism does not have a room in Puntland, we shall ensure perpetrators are brought to book".

Al-Shabaab and ISIS militants are significantly weakened in Puntland, which has been pushing for national dialogue aimed at getting a solution for Somalia's unending insecurity troubles, dating back to the 90s.

The forces recently clashed with neighbors from Somaliland, but their cross-border differences have since been solved. The attack at Garowe was the first within the region in five years, further showcasing the state's preparedness in thwarting terrorism.