Puntland soldiers turn weapons on each other

Saturday December 25 2021

Somalia soldiers on patrol in Mogadishu. FILE PHOTO | AFP


Somalia’s forces in Puntland State have turned their guns against one another, leading to fears that al-Shabaab could take advantage to establish their base in the area.

In the past couple of weeks, an armed clash in the port city, some 1,500km northeast of Mogadishu, has seen the law enforcers mostly engage in vicious fights, rather than guarding civilians.

In mid-morning on Tuesday, the fight erupted again between forces loyal to Puntland government of President Said Abdullahi Deni , and an anti-terrorism elite brigade known as Puntland Security Force (PSF).

Reports from the port town of Bossaso confirmed deaths and injuries to the combatants and civilians have occurred as the sides exchanged fire from all sorts of heavy and light arms.

The US Embassy warned on Tuesday the fighting has to stop to enable the forces to focus on the real enemy — al Shabaab and other criminals.

“We urge an immediate end to the hostilities in Bossaso and a return to dialogue to find a negotiated and peaceful solution,” the statement from the US Embassy reads.


Latest reports indicated that the fighting that intensified over the afternoon had cooled down but residents still reported intermittent gunfire.

Neither the pro-government side nor the PSF officers have issued clear information on the status of the fighting and the casualty levels.

Bossaso, the commercial capital and the main port of Puntland, had become a ghost town as residents fled for cover on Tuesday. Businesses remained largely closed.

The problem in Bossaso started in November when Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni sacked Mohamud Osman Diyano, the director of Puntland Security Force, an elite armed brigade that had been formed to fight the jihadist groups in Puntland, namely al-Shabaab and the Islamic State.

By the same decree, Mr Deni appointed Brigadier General Mohamed Amin Abdullahi to replace Diyano, a move Mr Diyano vehemently rejected. Supported by the top PSF officers, Mr Diyano and his lieutenants labelled the dismissal and replacement as illegal.

PSF units are mainly stationed in the mountainous area of Bari region.