Somali militants kill at least 11 Puntland soldiers
Somali militants kill at least 11 Puntland soldiers
The attack underscores concerns that security in the relatively peaceful region will worsen after a large number of Al-Shabab rebels were squeezed out of their southern and central strongholds by African troops and moved north.
Puntland’s President Abdirahman Mohamud Farole last month told Reuters more than 400 Al-Qaeda-linked fighters were holed up in his territory, a development that could discourage plans for oil exploration in the region.
“Al Shabab unexpectedly attacked our base and killed 11 of our forces and injured 7 others last night,” Khalif Isse Mudan, Puntland’s security minister, told reporters.
Seven militants were killed in the gunbattle, he said.
Until now, Puntland has largely escaped the worst of the upheaval in Somalia, which has been deprived of an effective central government for two decades.
Although militant numbers are still limited in Puntland, Western diplomats fear they may try and forge closer ties with Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, separated from Somalia by a narrow stretch of water. Access to Puntland’s ports would help the rebels ship in weapons.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for Al-Shabab’s military operations, said the militants had killed 17 Puntland troops.
Under pressure from African Union (AMISOM) peacekeeping troops and Somali government forces, Al-Shabab has lost many of its urban strongholds in south-central Somalia since it launched a rebellion against the Western-backed government in 2007.
More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing
- Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing
- The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron
PARIS: More than 70 countries committed Thursday to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were all present.
Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the United States, is expected to close the conference later with a call for the necessity for multilateral action.
Daniel Lewis, executive secretary of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, said he is hoping that words will be put into action.
“When we have information — for example the UN list of individuals and entities financing terrorism — we need to make sure measures like asset freezing are implemented fully and quickly,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Participants called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.
Participants included countries that have accused each other of funding terrorism, notably in the Arabian Gulf.
France has pushed for international coordination and more transparency in financial transactions. But it has recognized how sensitive the issue is, and saw the conference as a first step for coordinated action.
The French organizers noted that Daesh military defeats on the ground have not prevented the group from pursuing its terrorist activities, along with Al-Qaeda — especially in unstable regions of Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror groups don’t only rely on the cash economy — they’re using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations.
Daesh has also invested in businesses and real estate to ensure its financing. Daesh revenues alone were estimated at $2.5 billion between 2014 and 2016, according to the French president’s office.
Though most of the attacks in Western countries do not cost a lot of money, a French official said terror groups “behave like big organizations” in that it “costs a lot to recruit, train, equip people and spread propaganda.” The official was speaking anonymously under the presidency’s customary practice.
The French counterterrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told FranceInfo radio that Daesh uses micro-financing techniques to collect a great number of small amounts of money.
Work with the financial intelligence unit helped identify 416 people in France who have donated money to Daesh over the last two years, he said.
Money, he said, went to “320 collectors mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon from whom jihadis in Iraq and Syria could receive funds.”
In recent years, the US and other Western nations have encouraged Middle Eastern nations to close off such sources.
However, allegations over extremist funding in part sparked a near-yearlong boycott of Qatar by four Arab states.
Qatar denies funding extremists, though it has faced Western criticism about being lax in enforcing rules.
Participants agreed to hold a similar conference next year in Australia.