Seven killed as militants attack checkpoint in Somalia’s Puntland

Security forces stand near the wreckage of a minibus at the scene of a car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on Sept. 28, 2017. (AP)
Updated 09 October 2017

Seven killed as militants attack checkpoint in Somalia’s Puntland

BOSASO, Somalia: Al-Shabab militants attacked a checkpoint in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, killing at least seven people in the early hours of Monday, police said.
The fighters then ambushed officers rushing in to help colleagues on the outskirts of the city of Bosaso, an officer at the scene said.
Al-Shabab said it took the checkpoint then left, though the police said they fought off the assault.
Al-Shabab has launched a string of attacks on Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and other areas controlled by the federal government in a bid to oust the Western-backed authorities.
Attacks are relatively rare in Puntland, which has its own government and security forces patrolling its territory on the northeastern tip of the Horn of Africa, jutting out into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
“At about 1 a.m., many well-armed Al-Shabab fighters attacked us from all directions in an attempt to capture the checkpoint,” police captain Abdifatah Mohamed said.
Three police and four civilians died and at least 13 others were wounded in the clashes, he said over the phone from the checkpoint.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman, said its fighters killed seven soldiers and wounded 11 others.
“We captured the Bosaso checkpoint and left this morning. We also ambushed a police reinforcement,” he said.
Puntland is also home to a splinter group of Al-Shabab that has sworn allegiance to Daesh. Security sources say a small contingent of foreign fighters is based there.


Japan to send own force, won’t join US coalition for Mideast

Updated 1 min 25 sec ago

Japan to send own force, won’t join US coalition for Mideast

  • In June, a Japanese-operated tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, and the US said Iran was responsible
  • US-Iranian relations have deteriorated since President Donald Trump last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal
TOKYO: Japan’s government said Friday it has decided not to join a US coalition to protect commercial vessels in the Middle East but is preparing to send its own force to ensure the safe shipment of oil to Japan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan will keep cooperating closely with Washington even if it won’t join the initiative the US says is aimed at protecting commercial tankers from alleged Iranian attacks.
“Peace and stability in the Middle East is extremely important for the international society, including Japan,” Suga said at a news conference. “After we studied comprehensively what measures can be most effective, we have decided to pursue our own measures separately.”
Japan’s energy needs rely heavily on oil imports. It has kept friendly ties with Iran and is reluctant to join such a force.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to help ease tension between Washington and Tehran.
US-Iranian relations have deteriorated since President Donald Trump last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions that deteriorated the Iranian economy. Iran has since begun breaking terms of the deal.
The tensions have included seizures of oil tankers at sea.
Suga said Japan plans to deploy warships initially for information gathering purposes to the Gulf of Oman, the Northern Arabian Sea and nearby waters, but did not include the Strait of Hormuz at the center of the US-Iran tension. Warships are expected to Timing of a dispatch hasn’t been decided.
Sending warships to areas of military tension is a highly sensitive issue in Japan, where its pacifist postwar constitution strictly limits use of force to the country’s self-defense only. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, has gradually expanded Japan’s military role.
In June, a Japanese-operated tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, which Washington said Iran was responsible and urged Japan to join the US-led military initiative.