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Security forces in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland began massive security operations in Galkayo (Galka’ayo), the capital city of Mudug region today. 'Hundreds' of security forces have been deployed in different phases over the last four days to combat crime and conduct anti-piracy operations, according to local sources and officials who spoke to Somalia Report.
The first convoy of security forces arrived at Puntland’s military bases in northern Galkayo on the first day of Ramadan four days ago.
Although the Puntland officials refused to specify the exact number of troops deployed, officials confirmed that security operations are ongoing against pirates and criminals.
“Yes, Puntland security troops are doing new security operations in the region. We are fighting insecurity and pirates are one our main targets. The government will not allow anything that can cause insecurity - whatever its,” the governor of Mudug Region, Mohamed Yusuf Jama told Somalia Report.
Officials added that at least five pirates were arrested by the Puntland’s security forces during the first phase of the operation.
“The troops already began their operations and at least five pirates were arrested and we are searching for others. The troops are fighting pirates so they will keep at their duty. We hope to stabilize the region,” added the governor.
Initial report said that the five suspects were suspected of kidnapping Kenyan aid workers, but the governor denies that was the case.
“They are not suspected of the kidnapping, but we are looking for those responsible for abducting the Kenyans,” added Mohamed Yusuf.
Galkayo residents confirmed the operations in the city.
“On the city first Ramadan at least a hundred troops arrived and days later another three hundreds arrived. Now there are around four hundreds troops spread throughout the city," Osman Omar, a resident in Galkayo told Somalia Report.
Security Forces Shoot Pirate
In a separate incident during the operations in Galkayo, security forces fought against pirates and two people were killed, including a pirate, according to the governor.
An eyewitness in Galkayo told Somalia Report that fighting began after a pirate refused to stop his car for the security forces.
“The security forces were checking the cars in the streets and they were removing black screens (film) favored by pirates from the windows of cars because of security. One pirate refused to obey the order and they opened fire on each other and the pirate died. Another person was also killed in the incident,” said Saleban Cali, a resident in Galkayo.
Pirates in the region also confirmed this incident and added that they have felt the pressure from Puntland security forces since the first day of Ramadan.
“One pirate died in fighting between security forces and the pirate gangs. Since the troops arrived in the city, the gangs have been faced with more pressure. Mostly pirates in the city went in to southern part of the city because fear from the troops,” Bashiir Warsame, a pirate in Galkayo, told Somalia Report.
Galkayo is a city divided in half with Galmudug controlling the southern side and Puntland controlling the northern side.
Galkayo has been a hotbed of violence and the site of at least three kidnapping cases: two Danish Demining Group employees, one American journalist, and two Kenyan aid workers.
Somalia Report will follow any developments during the ongoing operations.