Image of a Shabaab fighter from the terror group’s website.
Shabaab and security forces from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northern Somalia have clashed in a region that has been described as the Tora Bora of East Africa.
Ten Shabaab fighters were killed and a commander was captured after the Somali terror group ambushed a Puntland security force in Karin, about 25 miles from the port city of Bosaso. Five members of Puntland ‘s security forces were also reported to have been killed.
“We have repulsed them, captured and killed many of them,” Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole told Garowe. “Jamaa Ismail Duale who is a well known militant, is among those we captured. I am appealing to Puntland people that they should prepare to defend the state from the invaders.”
The Shabaab fighters were under the command of Mohammed Said Atom, a radical cleric in northern Somalia.
“Atom has links with Al Qaeda and represents the Shabaab in the region,” Colonel Mohamed Jama, a senior security official from the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, told AFP on July 22.
Atom is said to have built up bases in the Sanaag mountains in a region between Puntland and Somaliland, another semi-autonomous region in the north. He is said to have “mobilized hundreds of Islamist militants in the villages around Sanaag Bari,” according to Jama.
Local Puntland officials said Atom’s bases in the Sanaag mountains are “like Tora Bora in Afghanistan,” with cave complexes and training camps [see AFP report, Fears of a new Tora Bora in northern Somalia]. In 2002, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden battled against US Special Forces and Afghan militias in the Tora Bora mountain complex in Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan.
Over the past week, Puntland security forces have launched an operation in Bosaso, and have been rounding up Somalis from the south and expelling them from Puntland. More than 500 southern Somalis have been deported from the region.
Shabaab has successfully carried out terror attacks in the relatively peaceful Somali north in the past. On Oct. 29, 2008, five Shabaab suicide bombers struck four compounds in Somaliland and Puntland, killing 28 and wounding scores. Three suicide car bombers struck the presidential palace, the UN Development Program compound, and the Ethiopian Consulate in the city of Hargeisa in Somaliland. And in Bosaso, two bombers targeted an intelligence facility.
On July 11 of this year, Shabaab carried out its first suicide attack outside Somalia, when two bombers detonated at restaurants in Kampala, Uganda, as soccer fans watched the World Cup. In that attack, 74 civilians were killed and more than 60 were wounded.
The Shabaab cell that carried out the Kampala attack is called the Saleh Ali Nabhan Brigade, which is named after the slain al Qaeda leader who also served as a senior Shabaab leader. Nabhan was one of the most sought out al Qaeda operatives in Africa. He was wanted for involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks against US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Shabaab is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.
• Five suicide bombers strike in northern Somalia, The Long War Journal
• Uganda attack carried out by Shabaab cell named after slain al Qaeda leader, The Long War Journal
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