Al-Shabaab and ISIS militants clash in Somalia
BOSASO, Somalia - Two rival Al-Shabaab and ISIS militant groups have reportedly clashed in the Puntland state of Somalia, an indication of brewing internal wrangles which could perhaps give a slight advantage to the Somali National Army [SNA] who have been fighting them viciously for the last several months.
Sunday's clashes took place in the Bari region where militants fought for several hours as they pushed to expand their territories. Al-Shabaab has a numerical advantage in the country and is said to be the most dangerous group.
The clashes started on Saturday and extended to Sunday and a better part of Monday morning, sources said. They fought around Dadamale and Qura'da in Ja'ayl within Bari region.
Both Al-Shabaab and ISIS operate in the wider sub-region known as Balli Dhidin with Qandala district in Bari, particularly between Qandala and Bosaso, the main commercial capital of Puntland.
Ahmed Yusuf, the Qandala District Commissioner confirmed the clashes while noting that security forces have been monitoring the situation. Whenever these two groups clash over supremacy, the government gets time to reorganize and strategize on how to degrade them.
“The two extremist groups have coexisted in the area, but it seems they are fighting for territorial control,” said Mr. Yusuf, referring to reports received from local dwellers of the mountainous areas who witnessed the fighting.
According to locals, the intense fighting may have left several militants dead and others wounded but the exact number could not be ascertained. Loyalists of Abdulkadir Mumin split from Al-Shabaab in 2015, declaring loyalty to Isis, then led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Mr Yusuf added: “The situation appears tense, but because of the area’s mountainous nature limits the flow of information. Somalia has been pursuing both groups for the last seven months with intensity with the US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] and local militia giving support.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared full war against the militants on all fronts and for the last seven months. But still, Al-Shabaab controls large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia, leading to sustained operations against them across the country.