Maltese port manager shot dead in al-Shabaab terror attack in Somalia's Puntland state

Militants posing as fisherman gun down Paul Anthony Formosa at Dubai-owned docks

Chris Baynes
Monday 04 February 2019 19:40
A manager has been shot dead at Bosaso port, which operated by the Dubai-owned P&O Ports
A manager has been shot dead at Bosaso port, which operated by the Dubai-owned P&O Ports

A Maltese port manager has been shot dead by militants posing as fishermen in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland state.

Islamist terror group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for killing Paul Anthony Formosa in the attack in Bosaso, on the Gulf of Aden. Three other people were injured.

The militants said they had targeted Mr Formosa because he works for P&O Ports, a Dubai government-owned company which operates Bosaso’s docks.

Yusuf Mohamed, governor of Puntland’s Bari region, said the construction project manager had been shot dead by two men in a fish market “as he was going to Bosaso port this morning”.

He added: “The men armed with pistols hit him [with] several bullets in the head."

One of the attackers was shot dead by security forces and the other has been arrested.

Puntland, an arid region in northeast Somalia, has enjoyed relative peace since declaring itself an autonomous state in 1998. It provides a refuge to many Somalis fleeing violence elsewhere in the country.

Al-Shabaab accused DP World, the parent company of P&O Ports, of “occupying” Bosaso and looting Somalia’s resources. The militant group accused Mr Formosa of being in the country “illegally”.

“We had warned him but he turned deaf ear,” it said in a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

The United Arab Emirates has been rapidly expanding its port operations and military presence in Somalia, as well as other at sites elsewhere in East Africa which lie on a crucial trade route.

P&O Ports signed a 30-year, $336m (£257m) deal in 2017 to develop the Bosaso port. DP World is also operating a major port in Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland.

The company acknowledged one of its employees had been killed and three others injured in an “incident” at Bosaso port, providing no further details.

Malta Freeport Terminals named the man killed as Formosa, a former employee.

“Paul was a hardworking employee, lively, open-minded and loved by his colleagues,” chief executive Alex Montebello said in a statement. “We are extremely shocked to learn of this attack and our thoughts are with his family during this most difficult time.”

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Al-Shabaab, is a Sunni Islamic extremist group, was born out of years of anarchy following Somalia's 1991 civil war.

The al-Qaeda-linked group is fighting to topple Somalia's Western-backed central government and install its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam's sharia law.

It has launched attacks across Somalia, as well as in Uganda and Kenya.

At least seven people were killed in a suspected al-Shabaab car bombing in Mogadishu earlier this week.

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