Geeska Afrika reports June 22 that US warplanes based in Djbouti are overflying Somalia’s northern autonomous enclave of Puntland in preparation for air-strikes against suspected al-Qaeda fugitives. The report also states that three weeks earlier, on June 2, a US Navy warship shelled the Puntland coastal town of Bargal, killing at least 12 Islamist fighters—with little note from the world media.
The war moves come as steps are being taken to integrate Puntland into Somalia’s interim government. The commander of Somalia’s national police force, Gen. Abdiqyebdid, is cuirrently in Bossaso, Puntland’s commercial hub, to discuss opening training courses for Puntland police.
The moves also come amid growing talk that Eritrea is attempting to destabilize Puntland as a step towards renewed insurgent attacks on government-controlled Somalia. Puntland President Adde Mussa accused Eritrea of infiltrating both Ethiopian and Somali opposition exiles into the enclave to foment unrest. “The so-called Free Parliament and Union of Islamic Courts members in Eritrea have joined up to pay money to some Puntland government members who were sacked, but Puntland will not be affected by such manipulation continued by that alliance,” he said. Mussa said that the mayor of Bosaso, Qadar Abdi Hashi, and five other local officials were sacked because they received bribes from the “Asmara group”—a reference to Eritrea’s capital—”to create violence and political tension in the region.”
“Puntland troops resisted the invasion carried out by a group of Somali and foreign terrorists,” Mussa added, alluding to further armed confict in the enclave which the world press have ignored.