Security forces' clash in Somalia's Bossaso port city threaten peace

Wednesday December 22 2021
Somali military forces

Somali military forces supporting anti-government opposition leaders in Mogadishu. Skirmishes erupted in Somali’s main port city of Bossaso in Puntland State, between forces loyal to Puntland government of President Said Abdullahi Deni, and an anti-terrorism elite brigade known as Puntland Security Force. FILE PHOTO | AFP


Skirmishes erupted Tuesday in Somali’s main port city of Bossaso in Puntland State, between forces loyal to Puntland government of President Said Abdullahi Deni, and an anti-terrorism elite brigade known as Puntland Security Force (PSF), threatening to heighten the insecurity in the region.

This comes barely a couple of weeks after armed clashes rocked the region situated some 1500 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu.

Reports regarding the incident revealed that the heavy exchange of gunfire between the two antagonising sides led to many confirmed deaths and injuries.

The US Embassy issued a warning stating that the fighting had to stop to enable the forces to focus on fighting terrorists.

 “We urge an immediate end to the hostilities in Bossaso and a return to dialogue to find a negotiated, peaceful solution,” the statement from the US Embassy said, adding that “continued fighting will only inflict further harm on Bossaso and its people.”

Latest reports indicated that the fighting had abated, with residents only reporting intermittent gunfire.


Neither the pro-government side nor the PSF officers have issued clear communication 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 and 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 (PSF), an elite armed brigade that had been formed to fight the jihadist groups in Puntland, namely Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State (IS).

By the same decree, Deni appointed Brigadier General Mohamed Amin Abdullahi to replace Diyano, a move Diyano vehemently rejected.

Supported by the top PSF officers, Diyano and his lieutenants termed the dismissal and replacement as illegal and vowed to continue in their positions.

 FSF units mainly stationed in the mountainous area of Bari region, confronting the jihadists that wage attacks from the Golis mountain range next to the port town and other districts within the region have withdrawn from their posts and regrouped at their headquarter in Bossaso town.

 When news of the PSF’s defiance became clear and its top officials announced their antagonism against President Deni’s decree publicly, the Puntland government mobilised its other forces, especially the Darawish, a paramilitary brigade, and deployed in Bossaso town.

Media reports indicate that the US Africa Command (Africom) has been supporting, logistically and financially, the PSF. But, various reports released illustrate that the PSF has been affected by former US President Trump troops’ reduction in Africa and across the world.

“Most of the materials supplied by the US to PSF has been taken to Djibouti and Balidogle (a military base in Southern Somalia),” Abdiwahid Mohamoud Hassan, a former commander of the Puntland Darawish force, told the media three weeks ago.

With respect the confrontation in Bossaso town, political commentators in Mogadishu believe that Deni is an awkward situation. “If he fights his opponents, he will look like a warlord. If he changes his decree, it will portray him as a weak leader,” Hassan Aidarus, a political observer in Mogadishu, told Nation.Africa on December 3.

“Only US’s Africom can tilt the balance,” he added.

 In early December, a group of clan elders led by Boqor Burhan, the supreme traditional leader in Punltand, met and issued a formula to stop the dangers of hostilities from escalating.

However, President Deni categorically objected to the elders’ resolution because they included a close that the fired PSF director retains the force’s weapons, which Dei said they belong to the Puntland government.