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Puntland troops consolidate gains, capture 29 militants

Hiiraan Online
Monday March 21, 2016

GAROWE (HOL) – Military forces from Puntland semiautonomous state in northern Somalia fought their way deeper into a town overrun by militants last week, in a major counteroffensive which aims to dislodge Al Shabab fighters who are trying to expand their military presence in the region, officials said Monday.

The recapture of Garacad town would serve as a major psychological boost for Puntland forces, a move which officials hope would disrupt further advances by Al Shabab from Nugal region to the east side, a strategy which military experts say aims to increase pressure on the regional forces.

Military officials leading the ongoing fighting said that troops were slowly regaining some ground outside the town, encroaching on the eastern side where hundreds of militants are entrenched to defend it.

Meanwhile, Al Shabab fighters suffered a major blow Monday as security forces battling to capture a mountainous valley area in the east of the region captured 29 fighters and killed scores  of militants, according to officials.

Mohamud Hassan Soadde, Puntland’s information minister told reporters that troops ended the battle for the Suj valley area, giving the regional state, paving way for state to combine its forces for a final push to retake Garacad town.

There was immediate comment from Al Shabab on the ongoing fighting which erupted last week after a group of its fighters seized the town, in Mudug region, opening a second military front against the regional administration which is already locked in a deadly war with militants in the largely mountainous town of Galgala and nearby villages.

The surprise seaborne attack had left Puntland authorities scramble to mobilize its forces to recapture areas lost to the militants.

The northern Somalia region had remained stable during over decades old conflict in Somalia which largely engulfed large parts in the south and central Somalia.



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