The U.S.’s killing of the deputy leader of an Islamic State faction in Somalia’s Puntland will blunt the group’s ability to carry out further attacks in the semi-autonomous region that sits near a key shipping lane, Puntland’s security minister said.
The U.S. on Monday confirmed it carried out an airstrike that killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub in the northeastern Somali region over the weekend. It described Dhuqub as responsible for the extremist group’s daily operations and planning of attacks.
His death “will have a negative military impact on the group, given his personal creativity and militant strategy,” Security Minister Abdisamad Mohamed Galan told reporters Monday. “He was the mastermind of some attacks in Puntland — killing him was like a mission accomplished.”
Semi-autonomous Puntland is situated on the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Like the rest of Somalia, it’s battling militants from the al-Shabaab group, an al-Qaeda affiliate. A breakaway faction has declared allegiance to Islamic State and conducted sporadic attacks, including the seizure of a port town for about six weeks in 2016, although it’s thought to have a maximum of about 200 fighters.