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Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Attack in Somalia

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for an attack in the Somali town of Bosaso.

The commander of police in the Bari region, Colonel Abdihakaim Yusuf Hussein, told VOA Somali that one person was killed and two people, including a police officer, were wounded in the attack.

Witnesses said one of two gunmen armed with pistols entered a coffee shop at a busy intersection Tuesday and fired bullets at the police officer, hitting him in the shoulder and in the back.

The officer, Abdirahman Barre Salah, is being treated and is expected to survive. A witness told VOA Somali that a table fell on top of the officer after he was struck by the bullets.

As the gunman attempted to flee the premises, the second gunman fired shots at the customers, killing a businessman and wounding another civilian.

Hussein said the attackers escaped and police are conducting an operation to hunt them down.

Islamic State militants based in Somalia issued a statement saying its fighters were responsible for the attack. IS incorrectly claimed that it killed a police officer. Hussein, however, did not confirm IS involvement, saying he did not want to "get ahead of the investigation."

It is the third attack in Bosaso claimed by Islamic State this year. In February, two gunmen attacked the International Village hotel and exchanged fire with security forces. Four soldiers and the two attackers were killed.

In May, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint near the Jubba hotel, killing five people and injuring 17 others.

Pro-Islamic State militants emerged in Somalia's Puntland region in October 2015 and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The group, which has bases in the eastern Al-Bari Mountains of Puntland, is led by Abdulkadir Mumin, a well-known cleric who was previously a member of al-Shabab leadership.

The group's biggest attack came in late October 2016 when its fighters seized the ancient town of Qandala from Puntland forces and kept control of it for 40 days.