Home English News Puntland Police on Alert as Somalia Terror Threat Moves North

Puntland Police on Alert as Somalia Terror Threat Moves North

A checkpoint in the desert of northern Somalia is the first line of defense against Al-Shabab and Islamic State from reaching the port city of Bossaso, the economic hub of the semi-autonomous Puntland state.

The two extremist groups have set up camp in the mountains east and west of the city, and launch periodic attacks, including two assaults on the checkpoint last year.

In daylight, armed police search every car heading in and out of the city, looking for weapons, explosives, and hidden militants. At dusk, they take up positions behind bunkers in case the extremists attack again.

A soldier for the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland stands guard near a newly-built market across from police headquarters in Bossaso, Somalia, March 24, 2018. (J. Patinkin/VOA)

A soldier for the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland stands guard near a newly-built market across from police headquarters in Bossaso, Somalia, March 24, 2018. (J. Patinkin/VOA)

“We are always on standby, we are always careful, but with God’s will we will defeat them one day,” says Lieutenant Colonel Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed, who commands the checkpoint.

Puntland has long been more stable than the country’s volatile south, where al-Shabab has battled the government and African Union forces for the past decade. But in the past year, there have been a string of smaller attacks in Puntland, including tossed grenades and shootings in and around Bossaso.

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