Islamic State gains traction in northern Somalia, says UN
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.