ERIGAVO (Somalilandpress) — A powerful landmine bomb ribbed through a pickup truck carrying a dozen of troops from Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland on Thursday killing one and wounding several more near the disputed Galgala Mountains.
A source in the nearby town of Bossaso told Somalilandpress the bomb struck the pickup truck mounted with machine gun while it was heading to the village of Galgala to bring in reinforcement as Puntland troops clashed with a powerful warlord in the region. The source added at least one was killed and three were wounded.
Troops from Puntland have battled a militant loyal to warlord Mohamed Saeed Atom in the desert village and its surroundings for the past weeks killing and wounding scores from both side.
The regional authority in Puntland accuses the warlord of having ties with southern Somalia’s radical al Shabab group, an accusation both groups deny.
Al Shabab has distanced itself from the conflict in Galgala saying it’s a case of locals being frustrated with the Western and Ethiopian backed regional government in Garowe and its Intelligence Service.
Sheikh Atom says he wants Islamic strict law in the region and to dismantle any western institution in Puntland. He is not the only religious figure calling for Sharia Law in Puntland, a number of clerics including Sufi leaders want similar practices being imposed across Puntland and central Somalia. He also accuses Puntland’s majority Majertein tribe of marginalizing his minority Warsangeli clan.
He cited that Puntland’s major tribe is trying to take advantage of Galgala’s Warsangeli minority by signing mineral exploration contracts with foreign explorers without the blessing of the local people and the elders.
A Warsangeli militia group equipped by Sheikh Atom took up arms against an Australian firm, Range Resources, in 2006 when it tried to muscle itself into the region to conduct mineral surveys. The exploration was halted and Puntland withdraw its forces.
Now locals and many Somali intellectuals from the Diaspora believe the conflict in Galgala is a combination of aggressive Western companies’ policies, tribal feuds and misleading association with the so called American war on terror.
Puntland on the other hand says Sheikh Atom is an international terrorist and attacked his base about 30 kilometers north-west of Puntland’s commercial town of Bossaso last week. The conflict has so far left over 50 dead and scores more wounded according to local reporters.
Puntland has imposed a news blackout since the violence flared up and sentenced a local radio station manager to six years in prison for airing an interview with Sheikh Atom. A VOA reporter based in Puntland’s capital of Garowe has also been suspended and blacklisted from reporting on the conflict. The authority in Garowe on Thursday announced travel restrictions across Puntland region.
Even though the area is disputed between Somaliland Republic and neighbouring Somalia’s regional state of Puntland, Somaliland has not so far spoke about the conflict within its border. The village of Galgala its mountainous surrounding; now hideout for Sheikh Atom, fall inside Somaliland’s eastern Sanaag region. It’s unclear if Somaliland will send forces or a delegation to the region. The new defence minister of Somaliland hails from eastern Sanaag and its unclear how he will resolve this new conflict.
Somalilandpress | Friday, 20 August 2010
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