Is­lamic State gains trac­tion in north­ern So­ma­lia, says UN

Business Daily (Kenya) - - REGIONAL BUSINESS -

A mil­i­tant fac­tion loyal to Is­lamic State (IS) has in­creased its fol­low­ing in north­ern So­ma­lia from a few dozen last year to up to 200 this year, a UN re­port said, days after the group came un­der US air at­tack for the first time.

The in­crease in strength of the IS spin-off group has at­tracted at­ten­tion be­cause some se­cu­rity of­fi­cials fear it could of­fer a safe haven for Is­lamic State mil­i­tants flee­ing mil­i­tary de­feat in Syria or Iraq. “The Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL) fac­tion loyal to Sheikh Ab­dulqader Mu­min — es­ti­mated... in 2016 to num­ber not more than a few dozen..., has grown sig­nif­i­cantly in strength, and (now) con­sists of as many as 200 fight­ers,” said the re­port by a panel of UN ex­perts ob­tained by Reuters.

“Even a few hun­dred armed fight­ers could desta­bilise the whole re­gion,” said a re­gional diplo­matic se­cu­rity source. “It (air strikes) is a recog­ni­tion from the US that the sit­u­a­tion in terms of the (Is­lamic State) fac­tion in Punt­land is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly crit­i­cal.” So­ma­lia has been riven by civil war and Is­lamist mil­i­tancy, though more in the south than in the north where the Punt­land

So­ma­lia has been riven by Is­lamist mil­i­tancy, though more in the south than in the north... The Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL) fac­tion... has grown signi icantly in strength.” UN RE­PORT

re­gion is lo­cated, since 1991 when clan war­lords over­threw a dic­ta­tor be­fore turn­ing on each other. Fri­day’s air strikes failed to kill Mu­min, the se­cu­rity source said. But Ab­d­i­rizak Ise Hus­sein, di­rec­tor of semi-au­ton­o­mous Punt­land’s spy ser­vice, said the strikes killed about 20 mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing a Su­danese fighter and two Arabs.

Al­most all Mu­min’s fight­ers are So­mali, the UN re­port said, though the group is be­lieved to in­clude a Su­danese man sanc­tioned by the United States. The group also has con­tacts in Ye­men. It was un­clear if the Su­danese man un­der US sanc­tions was the same one re­ported killed in the air strike.

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