A suspected Islamist militant batch in the North-East of Somali coming from Yemen has been detained says the regional governor Abdisamad Gallan.
According to Abdisamad Gallan the captured boat contain seal sacks full of land mines and artillery, the discovery was made after a tip-off from residents in Qandala, a coastal town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. Mr Gallan, the governor of Puntland’s Bari province, said it was believed that the boat had travelled from Yemen and the crew had escaped on their boat before they could be questioned. Qandala residents told the BBC in a report that those in the boat were foreigners. So far it is said to be one of the biggest capture of al-Shabab weapons.
The al-Shabab group says it wants to reinforce its presence in Puntland, besides the al-Qaeda-aligned group has once dominated all of central and southern Somalia.
The al-Qaeda has now lost all the major towns it once controlled, even though it still occupies many rural areas. Earlier this week, on an al-Shabab website, Amiirnuur, it said militants were expanding their activities into Puntland and intended to show its residents the true way of Islam. The group follows the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis. The website also said that Sheikh Abdur Kadir Mumim, an al-Shabab leader in Puntland, wanted to throw out the region’s President Abdirahman Farole, who they accused of being against Islam because he had invited Nato officers into the region to fight terrorists.
A UN report earlier this year noted that al-Shabab was increasing operations further north, with an armed group in the region joining the Islamists. The African Union (AU) troops have been fighting alongside Somali government army, leading the fight against al-Shabab in southern Somalia. More than a year ago, the group was sent out of the capital, Mogadishu and although the Islamists still launch occasional suicide attacks the city is experiencing a renaissance, with businesses opening and buildings being reconstructed. There has also been progress on the political face last month with the election by MPs of a new president.
After the overthrowing President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has move down into a mix of territories controlled by rival warlords and clans. Puntland became autonomous in 1998 and have remained mainly free of the Islamists’ influence, but are known for its pirate bases.