MOGADISHU - An Islamist militia group in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region has merged with the al Shabaab rebel group, said the insurgents on Saturday, a union which threatens to destabilize the relatively secure area targeted by oil explorers.
Al Shabaab said it wanted to scrap the licenses of Western oil and gas firms drilling in Puntland. The al Qaida-backed insurgents used social media site twitter to declare all oil and gas exploration and drilling licenses nullified.
While they do not hold the administrative control in the region needed to enforce their demand, the militants could try to target installations operated by Western oil companies.
The Puntland administration was not immediately available for comment.