Battle Islamist militia – IGAD
Addis Ababa - A six-nation east African regional bloc on Monday urged Somalia's two breakaway regions of Puntland and Somaliland to jointly battle Islamist militia which it said had extended to the areas.
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) "noted in particular that the terrorist groups have recently expanded their acts of terrorism to the relatively stable regions of Somaliland and Puntland."
The group was referring to the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab militia and its Hezb al-Islam allies who have waged fierce battles against Somalia's internationally backed government.
It "called upon the authorities in Somaliland and Puntland to co-ordinate their response and also work closely with the (Somali government) to overcome the common threat that they are facing from the Shebab and Hezb al-Islam".
Three policemen were killed on January 25 in a bomb explosion triggered by unknown attackers in Las Anod, a town which lies in the disputed border area between Somaliland and Puntland.
Also last month, Somaliland authorities said they had thwarted an attack on a mosque in Hargeysa, the state's capital, whose imam had criticised suicide bombings carried out by the Shebab.
The Shebab, engaged in an offensive to topple the internationally recognised government in Mogadishu, are mainly active in southern and central Somalia but several of its key figures are originally from Somaliland.