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Gunmen kill Dubai-owned P&O Ports executive in Somalia's Puntland

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GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) - Gunmen posing as fishermen killed Dubai government-owned P&O Ports’ operations in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland on Monday in an attack claimed by Islamist militant group Al Shabaab.

Yusuf Mohamed, governor of Puntland’s Bari region, told Reuters that two men disguised as fishermen had shot Paul Anthony Formosa as he was going to Bossaso port this morning.

He was killed “in the fish market as he was going to Bossaso port this morning. The men armed with pistols hit him (with) several bullets in the head,” Mohamed said.

One of the attackers was shot dead by security forces at the scene and the other detained, he said. Formosa’s LinkedIn account states his nationality as Maltese.

P&O Ports said an employee had died and three others injured in an “incident” at Bossaso Port, without giving further details. The company was cooperating with the Puntland authorities in its investigation, it said in a statement published on Twitter by Dubai’s government media office.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and accused Formosa of being in Somalia “illegally”. The 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.

“We are behind the operation ... we had warned him but he turned deaf ear. He was illegally in Somalia,” said spokesman for Al Shabaab’s military operations, Abdiasis Abu Musab.

P&O Ports has run Puntland’s Bossaso port since winning a 30-year concession in 2017 to expand and manage the facility.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh, Feisal Omar and Abdiqani Hassan Mahamud; Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky