Somalia: Puntland forces recapture strategic town from Al-Shabaab
BOSASO, Puntland - The forces of Somalia's northeastern Puntland state have regained control of a strategic town from Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab on Tuesday, Garowe Online reports.
A military officer, who did not want to be named, said the forces retook Af Urur, 60 km southwest of Bosaso, Puntland commercial city without a fight or resistance from the Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
The takeover comes just three days after the extremists rolled into the village, near the Galgala hills, an area largely controlled by Al-Shabaab.
"The Al-Shabaab militants fled into the hills and we are pursuing them," the officer, told Garowe Online from Af Urur over the phone.
The village has been the target of Al-Shabab since June 2017 due to its importance as it serves the main road that links the cities of Garowe, Bosaso and the Somali capital Mogadishu passes nearby.
In June 2017, at least 48 people, mostly Puntland state soldiers were killed, and wounded dozens of others the Islamists attacked and took over the town of Af Urur.
Al Shabaab more often launches attacks on the capital Mogadishu and other regions controlled by Somalia’s federal government. The group aims to drive out AU peacekeepers and topple the UN-backed government.
Terrorist attacks are comparatively rare in Puntland, where the security forces are relatively regularly paid and receive substantial U.S. assistance.
The oil-rich region is also home to a splinter group of al Shabaab that has sworn allegiance to Islamic State. Security sources say a small contingent of foreigners is there as well.