Somali authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland have warned of potential attacks by an al-Shabab splinter faction that recently announced allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.
Commander of Puntland forces General Said Mohamed Hersi has confirmed officially for the first time that al-Shabab fighters in Puntland had split into two factions.
General Hersi told VOA's Somali service the new splinter faction is active in planning attacks in order to demonstrate that “ISIS is present” in Somalia, using a common acronym for IS, which is also known as ISIL or Daesh.
Asked if there are any specific attacks the faction may be planning, General Hersi said: “Terrorist acts — explosions, assassination of individuals and planting devices.”
He said his security forces are monitoring the situation and are ready to “respond and engage."
Last month an al-Shabab official who hails from Puntland, Abdulkadir Mumin, declared allegiance to IS.
Mumin and his fighters recorded an audio and video published by IS. He is believed to be based in a mountainous area southwest of Bosaso town, Puntland’s biggest town and the main business hub.
Last year Hersi led an offensive against al-Shabab in the Galgala Mountains, capturing several towns. Despite acknowledging a pause to the military campaign, he insists his forces succeeded in holding captured areas. He demanded logistical support from the Somali government as well from the international community.