Somalia: Puntland presses ahead with offensive, 15 killed [Update]


GAROWE, Somalia-Puntland Government in northern Somalia has claimed early victory against Al Shabaab militants in fierce clashes in Nugal region on Wednesday, Garowe Online reports. 

Nugal Governor Omar Abdullahi Faraweyne—who is leading a battalion in the village of Godobjiran--has confirmed that 15 militants were killed in the day-long battle in Suuj, a small village near Garmaal, 80km away from historic Eyl coastal town.  

GO could not independently verify the exact number of dead due to lack of phone networks in the areas where the government forces are conducting the offensive.  

Faraweyne said, two government soldiers were wounded in the battle. 

Earlier today, Information Minister Mohamed Hassan So’adde predicted that what he described ‘clean-up operation’ against pawns could be concluded in 72 hours. 

A band of Al Shabaab fighters on foot were also reported to be heading towards Godogjiran, moving northwards in a separate development. 

Puntland troops are just stationed, 30 to 40km off Al Shabaab units in the countryside of Godobjiran.  

The battle is said to have involved barrage of artillery. Fleeing militants have also got holed up in pits. 

On Tuesday, Puntland Security Minister Abdi Hirsi Ali (Qarjab) blamed UN-backed national government for stoking Al Shabaab exodus in allegations denied by Interior Minister Abdirahman Odawa on VOA Somali Service. 

--Fighter jets  

Residents of coastal villages along the Indian Ocean reported that reconnaissance planes are flying at low altitude. 

It is yet unclear whether hovering fighter jets of unknown foreign country could strike fugitive Al Shabaab members.  

Puntland has fought militants in sporadic clashes on difficult terrain near Golis Mountain Ranges since mid-2010.


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