HARGEISA (Somaliguardian) – Al-Shabaab militants took control of several villages in Somalia’s Sanaag region on the disputed border between Somaliland and Puntland administrations, residents told local media on Saturday.
Heavily armed fighters of the Al-Qaeda –linked armed group are said to have taken control of the villages of Miri’, Masha-aled, Habasha Aw-Ali and Markeet all in Sanaag region. They established military bases in the strategic villages, which are part of territory claimed by the self-proclaimed State of Somaliland.
Residents say the group’s fighters began patrols in and around the villages on Saturday and held meetings with traditional leaders to assure them that they would improve security and that civilians would not be harmed.
The fall of these villages to Al-Shabaab pose a significant security threat to the nearby towns of Badhan and Lasqoray in Sanaag region under the control of Somaliland. The break-away state has yet to comment on the reports of militants inside its territory.
Militants embarked on a security patrol in Gurya-samo area on the road linking Badhan with Lasqoray on Saturday, in the course of which they captured a vehicle transporting containers of alcohol, which they have later burned.
Fighters of the militant group, who have long been carrying out attacks in the mountainous areas in Puntland semi-autonomous administration have now expanded their control to parts of Somaliland, with the latest developments from the region signaling major boost in group’s power in northern Somalia after a decade-long insurgency war against US-backed Somali administrations and allied foreign troops.
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