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Somalia: Boats carrying arms heading to Al-Shabaab run aground in Puntland

Somali Puntland forces receive weapons seized in a boat on the shores of the Gulf of Aden in the city of Bosasso, Puntland region, Somalia on Sunday. (REUTERS)

GAROWE, Puntland – In recent months, the coastal areas in Puntland, a Federal State in northeastern Somalia witnessed a surge in the smuggling of illegal weapons from war-torn Yemen.

Smugglers using small boats sneak the weapons into Puntland, which has been battling Al-Shabaab and ISIS for years. The civil war in Yemen makes it possible for unscrupulous traders to take advantage.

On July 1, two boats were sighted with arms after running ground along Bandar-Bayla coast in Karkaar. There were 19 sailors on board, three of whom were foreigners and 16 Somalis, who ended up in jail.

According to authorities, the Puntland Maritime Police Force [PMPF] has managed to seize some of the weapons, including AK-47s while the rest fell into the hands of the local residents. The uncontrolled purchase of firearms has been a major boost for Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Garowe Online has further verified the reports having spoken to several security officials within the region. The smugglers are currently being grilled in custody in Puntland and waiting to be put on trial.

An official who did not want his name to be disclosed told Garowe Online that the boats were carrying the weapons to the Al-Shabaab-controlled coastal town of Harar-Dhere in the Mudug region, central Somalia.

Areas under Puntland in the coastal areas are difficult for the authorities to maintain on a large scale, making it easier for them to land and export illegal goods. The reports of Al-Shabaab getting weapons from Yemen have been in the public domain for a long.

Illegal arms trafficking has been on the rise in the coastal areas of Puntland in recent months. The government has, however, tried to put various mitigation measures to curb the crime.

To enforce an arms embargo on Somalia, the United Nations Security Council in November 2021 decided to reauthorize a maritime interdiction of illicit weapons imports and charcoal exports, while renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia.

Adopting Resolution 2607 by a vote of 13 in favor, none against, with two abstentions, the 15-member Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, renewed and expanded the provisions set out in paragraph 15 of Resolution 2182 until Nov. 15, 2022.

However, Garowe Online has been making follow-ups on the issues surrounding the smuggling of arms into Somalia.


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