Galgala (SPR): Heavy clashes erupted early Wednesday morning in the northern Somalia region between Puntland forces and militants loyal to an insurgent leader, Mohamed Said Atom, leaving at least 28 combatants dead according to local witnesses.
Reports confirm that militants loyal to Atom seized the town of Galgala, which is 25 miles south of the port of Bosasso, the commercial hub of the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland.
Somali Public Radio contacted opposing sides, both refusing to comment on the deadly battle that took course Wednesday morning.
Local elder in the town of Galgala who requested anonymity for security reasons told SPR that he saw 20 dead bodies. Puntland security minister Khayr told the press that five soldiers had been killed in the morning attack on the town. Another Puntland official said earlier that nine had been killed from Puntland troops.
It is very difficult to verify conflicting accounts, because the town’s phone network was recently shut off by Puntland administration.
Somali Public Radio also obtained information from residents of Sugurre town near Galgala, that militias loyal to Atam ambushed a Puntland vehicle by firing rocket propelled grenades at their vehicles. 6 Puntland troops have been reported to have died from this ambush.
Puntland forces are said to be regrouping in an effort to launch a counter attack.
Puntland regional administration has been waging offensives in Western Bari since late July of 2010, in their efforts to combat local militants led by Mohamed Said Atom.
Puntland accuses Atom for having links to terrorist groups in southern Somalia, but political analyst say that the conflict in the north is not entirely about terrorism. They say it also is about long-held political and economic grievances the clan of Western Bari region have had against the Puntland government since the administration's quest to mine a nearby village, Majiyahan with out approval from the inhabitants of Western Bari.
Somali Public Radio