The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Michael Keating, has strongly condemned the incursion by al-Shabaab fighters into Puntland state that began on 14 March, and praised the response by Puntland.
The al-Shabaab attacks started in the seaside village of Garcad in the Mudug region of Puntland and then spread northward into the Nugal region over the ensuing days. While the incursion signifies an expansion of the extremist group’s activity in Somalia, SRSG Keating welcomed the rapid response of Puntland’s armed forces in confronting the al-Shabaab fighters.
“We applaud the swift actions of Puntland’s forces during the recent fighting,” said Mr. Keating.
The SRSG also welcomed the provision of support from the Federal Government of Somalia to Puntland in this effort. “This underscores the need for all armed forces in Somalia to work together in the ongoing campaign to contain and ultimately defeat these violent extremists” he said.
Puntland forces have reportedly inflicted major losses on al-Shabaab elements near Garcad and the nearby Suuj Valley.
The SRSG also noted with concern reports of fresh al-Shabaab attacks against two government security installations that occurred in the Afgooye district of Lower Shabelle region early this morning.
“This is a year of decision and transition in Somalia,” said SRSG Keating. “The international community will stand with the people of Somalia and maintain support for the country’s armed forces in their battle against the menace of terrorism.”