BOSASO (SD) – Heavily armed suspected fighters suspected to belong to the so-called Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) on Wednesday evening stormed a town in northeastern Somalia, prompting hours long fighting with Puntland forces.
According to the locals, the suspected militants attacked Balidhidin town from two directions, engaging fierce clashes with Puntland forces who were later reportedly defeated.
The assailants also killed Mohamed Ahmed Muumin, who was Ballidhidin district commissioner and several civilians in the attack.
It is not yet clear whether the official was gunned down during the fighting or targeted by the militants.
Residents who spoke to the media on condition of anonymity have confirmed that the normalcy to returned the town which is currently under the control of the suspected ISIS fighters.
Puntland state authorities have not yet commented on the latest development.
The pro-Islamic State faction in northeastern Somalia was formed in 2015 by former fighters of al-Shabaab, who deserted the group following disagreement with the top leaders of Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate group, which mainly operates in south and central Somalia.
The group leader and founder Abdulkadir Mumin, also a former Al-Shabaab cleric pledged his allegiance to the then IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2015.
In 2016, the U.S. State Department designated Mumin, a former preacher based in the UK as a global terrorist.
The group has its headquarters in Galgala mountains in Bari region but has made headways into southern Somalia.
The group suffered a heavy toll in fighting with Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu and its outskirts between 2017 and 2018.
Since its inception, the group has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Puntland and southern Somalia.