19 October 2012

Somalia: Puntland 'Seizes Arms From Yemen'

Bossaso — Security forces in Somalia's Puntland autonomous region have seized a depot of arms and bomb material along the country's northern coastline, in another sign that Al Qaeda militants across the water in Yemen are working closely with militants in Somalia, Garowe Online reports.

Mr. Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, Governor of Bari region in Puntland State of Somalia

Mr. Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, the governor of Bari province in Puntland State, told the BBC Somali Service during a Friday morning interview that local communities tipped off Puntland authorities.

"Local communities contacted us and we acted immediately by sending Puntland government forces including the Puntland Maritime Police Force accompanied by state officials to Qandala and seize the arms and other materials," said Governor Gallan.

Qandala is a coastal town located east of Bossaso, a port city along the Gulf of Aden in northern Somalia that is Puntland's commercial hub.

Governor Gallan said he thinks the weapons were imported from Yemen. "The local people told us that foreigners brought the arms and bombing materials to the shore on a small boat and returned to sea. We believe the weapons were heading to Al Shabaab militants and we are investigating."

The Governor of Bari province said seized materials include: rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine-guns, ammunition, switches, wires and fuses. He did not say the details of the seized weapons cache, but indicated that it was a big seize.

It is the second time local communities tipped off Puntland authorities this year, leading to the seizure of a weapons cache. On July 20, Puntland security forces seized explosives and weapons, which Puntland officials said was smuggled from Al Qaeda groups in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden waterway and destined to Al Shabaab militants in the Galgala mountainous area.

Five years ago, Al Shabaab militants established footholds in Galgala mountainous area west of Bossaso and declared war on Puntland government. In October 2010, Puntland forces seized the Al Shabaab hideouts in the mountainous area at the conclusion of a three-month government offensive.

Puntland security officials say Al Shabaab militants in Galgala area receive logistics by sea, mainly from militants in Yemen, and also the militants have a "safe passage" in neighboring Somaliland region.

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