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Al Shabaab factions clash in fight for territory in Puntland

Monday March 13, 2023


A map showing Bari region in Puntland State, Somalia. MAP | THE EASTAFRICAN

Factions of the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab on Sunday clashed in Puntland State as the continual search for territorial supremacy rages.

Officials said the clashes in Bari region in eastern Somalia between fighters allied to the al-Qaeda terror group and those affiliated to the Islamic State (Isis) began on Saturday night and continued till early Sunday.

The confrontations occurred at wadi (dry river beds) known as Dadamale and Qura’da in Ja’ayl in Bari, over 1500km northeast of the capital Mogadishu.

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 port town and commercial capital of Puntland.

The areas where the bulk of the confrontation had taken place are characterised by dry river beds, torrents with water streams and mountainous territories where the militants of both extremist groups have coexisted.

Qandala District Commissioner Ahmed Yusuf confirmed the clashes to the media.

“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.

The locals told the media that the overnight battle was so intense it could have caused deaths and injuries.

Loyalists of Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin split from Al-Shabaab in 2015, declaring loyalty to Isis, then led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Since then, the groups clashed but separately challenged the Puntland administration and the Somali National Army.    

Mr Yusuf added: “The situation appears tense, but because of the area’s mountainous nature limits the flow of information.”


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