Fighting in Somalia's Puntland kills at least 27

MOGADISHU - At least 27 people have been killed in heavy fighting near the border of two semi-autonomous regions of Somalia, witnesses said on the eve of a political conference to hammer out a road map towards elections in the chaotic country.
Puntland's security ministry said its forces had repelled a two-day attack by al Shabaab militants in the north of Galkayo town, which its troops control, and accused the authorities of the Galmudug region, who control the south of Galkayo, of harboring the militants.The latest clashes and escalation in rhetoric risk spilling over into the three-day political talks starting on Sunday, the first major nationwide conference to be held in war-battered Mogadishu in four years.
"The fighting erupted (on Thursday) after al Shabaab terrorists opened fire on Puntland security forces intending to arrest members of a terrorist cell who organize assassinations and bombings," the security ministry said in a statement late on Friday.
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