Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, the President of Puntland, a region in the northeast of Somalia, has declared war on the Islamic State (IS) militant group and vowed to retake a town it seized recently.
The fighters captured Qandala, a coastal town, last week, hoisting their black banner in the district’s police station and administration centre.
Qandala is 75 kilometres east of Bossaso, the port town and commercial centre of Puntland, and about 1500 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu.
“We are going to assemble a force to chase them from Qandala,” President Ali said.
In 2015, a group of al-Shabaab fighters previously allied with al-Qaeda declared allegiance to Daesh or IS, following a decree by its leader Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin.
It is the first time that IS loyalists have announced the capture of a town in Somalia.
The largest number of jihadists is concentrated in the southern and central regions of Somalia.
The groups have been waging campaigns against government forces and peacekeepers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia in a bid to overthrow the internationally-recognised administration and establish a theocracy.