Somalia: Mutinying Forces Takeover Galkayu Bank

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Mechanized and fully armed Units of the Puntland Federal State of Somalia briefly took over control of Galkayu, today, reports said.

The armed officers, who double up as paramilitary units when the need arises, took over the provincial capital’s only government bank in the barring customers and employees from leaving the premises or entering it.

Efforts to convince them to leave in peace ended in failure.

Eyewitnesses said regional and district officers had been shuttling to and forth all morning, running into the afternoon, to open communication channels with the mutinying troops.

The armed troopers demanded that they be paid a significant backlog of their salaries, stating that they will no longer tolerate politicians who used them as fodder but who, at the same time, denied even their .most basic rights: their salaries.

This is not the first time the army takes over a bank in the financially teetering Puntland state. They did it before in Galkayu itself and at least twice in Garowe, the capital.

As most media outlets operating in the area either intentionally downplayed the disturbing event or totally blacked it out, it is not clear how the situation was resolved or what deal was reached with the mutineers.

A few months back, the accountant general of the region resigned stating that he could no longer work for an administration that would rather pile salary arrears due to army and police officers than pay them in time. The AG, at the time, revealed that the Puntland administration owed security officers more than 7 months in salary arrears.

One may not have thought that an administration that cannot pay its army or police officers have no time for picking fights with neighbors. But that is how things stand between the federal state of Somalia and the Republic of Somaliland whose forces have been facing one another across a short stretch of scantily-shrubbed land for the better part of 2018.

Puntland has, also recently, granted a base to a renegade Lt. Colonel of the Somaliland army, adding another dangerous dimension to an already incendiary situation. The brewing tensions can easily overturn the relative stability of the entire region, observers surmise.

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