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Somali Pro-IS Group Chief Survives US Strike, Says Regional Leader

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The leader of the Pro-Islamic State group in Somalia has survived U.S. airstrikes which targeted caves in a remote mountainous area in Puntland, the region’s president told VOA Somali.

Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said the leader of the group, Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, was the target of Friday’s U.S. strike.

“They [US] were targeting those troublemakers and their biggest leader Abdulkadir Mumin, they were looking for them,” he said. “Based on the information I’m getting he is still alive and is not dead.”

Ali said the U.S. did not share intelligence with his region but assessment is based on information from his region’s intelligence agencies.

On Friday, the United States Africa Command confirmed carrying out two strikes against IS militants in Somalia. The first attack occurred at around midnight and the second attack took place the following morning at 11:00am.

The U.S. Africa Command says several militants were killed in the strikes in Buqo Valley, 160 kilometers east of the city of Bosaso. The strikes were the first against the group by the United States.

On Sunday a senior Somali intelligence official told VOA Somali that they believe up to 20 militants were killed in the two strikes. He said some of the caves the militants were sheltering in collapsed on them as a result of the bombing.

The official who asked not to be named, told VOA Somali that it’s “likely” the leader of the group Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin survived the attack.

“Either he was not in those caves or he was missed, it is likely that he is alive,” he said.

Al-Shabab splinter group

The official said he believes two foreign figures including a Sudanese militant were also in the targeted area.

Intelligence sources say at least four missiles hit the caves in Buqo Valley in the first of two rounds of strikes. The second round of strikes occurred after the militants gathered in a place believed to be a burial site for those killed in the overnight strike.

Pro-IS militants emerged in Somalia in October 2015 after splitting from al-Shabab. The group has since recruited members in the eastern parts of Puntland, where Mumin’s clan resides.

The group has claimed responsibility for four attacks in Bosaso this year including the last incident which occurred just ten days ago where a would-be bomber pushing explosives hidden in a wheelbarrow detonated the device killing himself and injuring six others.

A month before, the group claimed an attack on a police commander at a coffee shop in Bosaso. The officer survived with injuries.

In February this year two gunmen attacked the International Village Hotel in Bosaso and exchanged fire with security forces. Four soldiers and the two attackers were killed.

In May a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint near the Jubba Hotel in Bosaso, killing five people and injuring 17 others.

The group scored its biggest attack in late October 2016 when its fighters seized the ancient town of Qandala from Puntland forces and kept control of it for 40 days.

Puntland

Somalia military working to push terrorists out of Puntland

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Somalia’s president says that increased military operations in the southern part of the country have forced extremists to move into Puntland ,a relatively stable region in the north-east. President Farmajo is currently touring the region, encouraging the military to crack down on al-Shabaab and other terror groups. CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow is travelling with the presidential delegation and sent us this report from Bosaso in Puntland

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Puntland

Somalia launches first renewable energy power plant

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Somalia is embracing new innovation to generate renewable energy. CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow reports now from northern Somalia where one electric company is combing fuel, wind and solar power to light towns and villages.

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Puntland

Somalia calls for calm in northern region

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MOGADISHU, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) — The Somali government on Wednesday called on Somaliland and Puntland regional states to stop escalating tension in the northern Sool region.

The government said in a statement that it is committed to continuing reconciliation among the fighting sides in the region and across the country to help restore peace and stability.

“The federal government’s intension is to stop the fight. It calls for Somaliland, Puntland local officials, community leaders, and scholars to stop the conflict, and work with the government in fostering peace and integrating brotherly people,” it said.

The government called on both sides to swiftly and unconditionally bring to an end to the looming conflict and solve their differences through dialogue and reconciliation.

The government expressed concern about the fresh armed conflict at Tukaraq area this week and urged the two sides to stop the battle unconditionally and come to negotiating table.

Tension has been rising since Monday in the disputed Takaraq location in Sool region, about 90 km from Garowe town as both sides amass troops ready for combat in the Puntland administrative capital.

Puntland authorities have blamed the break-away region of Somaliland for launching offensive in Takaraq to prevent visit by Somalia president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to the region.

The Somalia government described the current conflict in the region as unfortunate, saying such fighting would only give opportunity to the enemies of peace.

The statement comes after military forces from Somaliland Monday took control of a town under the semi autonomous region of Puntland following a fierce fighting.

Puntland State President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali condemned Somaliland for launching offensive on its territory.

“Puntland State is fighting Al-Shabaab and IS militants and the attack from Somaliland Administration gives shelter and support to the terrorist groups in the region,” Ali said on Tuesday evening.

Both Puntland and Somaliland have been in contest over Sool and Sanag regions with each side claiming control.

Puntland parliament threatened force in November 2017 against Somaliland if elections took place in Sool during the presidential poll. The polls, however, went on uninterrupted in most areas of Sool.

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