Nine Somali sliders were killed and five others were injured after a massive roadside explosion targeted their vehicle in Galgala, officials said.
The explosion occurred mid-morning Sunday during a routine operation by the Puntland security forces in the Galgala Mountains.
Spokesman for Puntland police in Galgala, Major Abdirahman Farah Gurhan, told VOA Somali that the vehicle was transporting 17 soldiers when it was hit by the improvised explosive device. The site of the blast is about 57 kilometers southwest of Bosaso port town.
“Nine soldiers died, five others are injured, they were riding a military vehicle when it exploded,” Gurhan said.
He said the victims include members of the security forces from police, military and maritime forces. He said only driver and two officers survived.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Galgala is a chain of mountains in Puntland where al-Shabab has been battling regional forces for nearly 10 years.
The area the group controls is strategic and close to the Red Sea. Experts believe al-Shabab's grip on this area is key to maintaining their connections to Yemen militants.
The United States has offered $3 million bounty for the leader of the al-Shabab branch in Puntland, Yasin Osman Khalid Kilwe.