Puntland dismisses AU peacekeepers’ deployment

The Puntland semiautonomous region in northern Somalia dismissed UN’s proposal of deploying troops from the African Union forces in the region as the region struggles to stave off a stubborn deadly insurgency by the Al-Qaeda-linked group in Somalia.

The United Nations envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay has recently said that there were plans aimed at deploying AU troops in Puntland, following deadly attacks including an attack on UNICEF minivan that killed at least 7 people including four international UNICEF workers.

Hassan Osman, Puntland’s security minister has dismissed the initiative, saying that they would not accept AU forces deployment in the region.

“After the Garowe attack, there were serious security concerns that led to offers of AU deployment in Puntland,” he told reporter at a security meeting in Puntland. “However, we have vehemently rejected that idea because we have enough troops to provide security in Puntland.” He said.

Mr. Osman warned more violence should AU forces deployed in the region, urging public to collaborate with the government to prevent further attacks.

In the meantime, Puntland convened an emergency security meeting by the cabinet on Wednesday, emphasizing the security minister’s rejection against the deployment of AU forces in the region.

Puntland is fighting Al-Shabab fighters in the mountainous Galgala town which changed hands for the past few years. Al-Shabab is fighting to set up a key base in the strategic town that can provide safe haven for the group’s fighters often targeted by aerial attacks, mostly by the US forces.

Al-Shabab sent hundreds of fighters into the region; however, security forces have denied more territory grounds for the group which is trying to seize the region which is close to Yemen where Al-Qaeda fighters have been trying to expand their areas of control since Houthi fighters overthrew the government.