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At least seven people died, including a police officer, after Islamist militants loyal to Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom attacked Puntland troops in the Galgala area, residents and officials confirmed to Somalia Report.
Armed militants attacked Suqure and Laag settlements near the Galgala mountains after they met resistance from Puntland troops.
Local residents in Bosaso told Somalia Report that the sound of bullets and heavy weapons could be heard in the town and number of injured security forces were rushed to hospital.
“Atom’s militants attacked Laag and Suqure area late Tuesday, but Puntland forces fought against them. At least one policeman and one militant died. The militants ran way from the area to their bases in Galgala mountains,” a resident in Bosaso said on the condition of anonymity.
A senior official of Atom’s militia, who asked not be named, told Somalia Report that a group of militia from Sheikh Atom's base waged a heavy attack and entered a Puntland security base in Sugare settlement.
“The Mujahideen will continue their ambushes against Puntland forces and main government centers in Bosaso. Tonight we attacked and killed some of them and seized some of their equipment,” he said.
Puntland officials also confirmed the incident to Somalia Report, but denied any of their troops were killed.
“Yes, it’s true. Atom’s militants attacked Suqure and Laag area and then they ran away. We did not suffer any casualties," said Puntland Minister for Sea and Ports Said Mohamed Rage.
Al-Shabaab Shifting to Galgala
Other reliable sources from Galgala said that more al-Shabaab fighters recently joined Atom's militants after fleeing the Kenyan advances in southern Somalia.
“They have a renewed sense of power after a number of al-Shabaab fighters from southern Somalia joined the militia to fight Puntland,” said a resident in Galgala who spoke to Somalia Report on the condition of anonymity.
There are indications that Sheikh Atom, once an independent warlord nominally allied to al-Shabaab, is falling increasingly under the direct control of southern al-Shabaab networks.
“They arrived here Puntland, especially in the mountains, to hide from airstrikes and to join Sheikh Atom’s group. We would like to show the international countries that al-Shabaab is trying to hide in mountains of Puntland,” said Minister Said Rage.