On 5 December 2012, al-Shabaab (AS) forces in Puntland’s Galgala mountains carried out two attacks on Puntland Security Forces (PSF) in the area.
Coming down from its mountain hideouts west of Galgala town, AS attacked a PSF outpost in Sugure, located in the map below. The PSF reported that it killed 7 al-Shabaab militants while 2 PSF members died as a result of the battle. Contrastingly, pro-al-Shabaab outlet SomaliMemo quoted AS military spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziaz Abu Muscab, who stated that the group had killed 30 PSF members while only losing 4 militants.
In the second attack, al-Shabaab detonated a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) on Puntland soldiers riding in a rescue vehicle in the Sugure area, killing 10 PSF members.
The PSF responded aggressively to the al-Shabaab attack and carried out a raid on an al-Shabaab base 45 km west of Galgala town, according to an official press release. Photos of the raid have circulated around Somali news sites.
The PSF stated that its forces trekked 20 hours to the mountain villages of El Dibir and Dudun in order to attack an al-Shabaab outpost in the area. The raid resulted in the death of two al-Shabaab members and the recovery of a bag of simple medical supplies.
For months, reports have indicated that al-Shabaab fighters have been escaping military pressure in South Central Somalia by fleeing to the Galgala mountains and the surrounding areas in northern Puntland.
It now appears that al-Shabaab may be ready to begin executing more attacks in Puntland from revamped bases in the region.
Al-Shabaab’s Galgala militia is led by Yasin Kilwe, a Warsengeli clan native of Dahar in the Sanaag region. In July 2012, Kilwe was appointed to replace veteran militant Sheikh Mohamed Atom.
Kilwe’s forces have been attempting to recruit support among the Warsengeli (sub-clan of Harti), Ali Saleeban (sub-clan of Majerteen), and other clan audiences by highlighting the marginalization within these communities and spreading the religious messages of the group’s religious leader Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, who hails from the region.