MAST GUARDING

The Islamic State Threat in Somalia’s Puntland State

A stretch of Somalia’s coast has been seized by Islamic State fighters who split from the country’s main jihadist militia Al-Shabaab, which is aligned with Al-Qaeda. A concerted response by the Somali federal authorities is now urgently required to contain the threat.
On 26 October, about more than 50 heavily-armed Somali Islamic State (IS) fighters seized Qandala, a sparsely populated town in Somalia’s Puntland federal state on a rugged mountainous coastal strip overlooking the Gulf of Aden. It was a small, but highly symbolic, step forward for the group and demonstrates again how armed extremists exploit state disorder and local tensions to develop safe havens and rebuild after otherwise debilitating defeats. Unless Puntland treats this threat seriously and resolves internal tensions like that in the Qandala area and conflicts with neighbouring federal states, IS in Somalia could grow in strength and destabilise much larger parts of Somalia.
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Source: crisisgroup.org

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