Mogadushi: Somalia’s president said late on Thursday night the country’s army was in “hot pursuit” of Islamist group Al Shabab fighters after the insurgents’ assault on a military base in the Puntland region that left at least 38 people dead.
In the early Thursday attack, the Islamists overran a military base in AF Urur, a town about 100 kilometres south of Bosaso, the capital of Puntland, one of Somalia’s semi-autonomous regions.
Most of those killed were soldiers, a Puntland security official said, adding 18 others were wounded, with an unknown number also feared captured alive.
In a statement, President Mohammad Abdullahi Farmaajo promised the Somali military would retaliate and avenge Al Shabab’s attack.
“We must show no mercy in dealing with Al Shabab,” he said.
“We promise that Al Shabab won’t get away with this. As of now, our troops are in hot pursuit of the enemy, they will pay for today’s attack.” The Al Qaida-linked Islamist group cited a higher toll in the attack, saying it had killed 61 soldiers. Numbers given by officials and Al Shabab often differ.
Al Shabab is fighting to topple Somalia’s central government and rule the country according to Sharia. They also want to drive out the African Union peace keeping force Amisom which is helping to defend the central government.
The group rarely carries out attacks in Puntland, where the security forces are relatively regularly paid and receive substantial US assistance.