By Abdiqani Hassan

QANDALA, Somalia (Reuters) - Soldiers loyal to Somalia's government retook control of a port town on Wednesday from insurgents who had declared allegiance to Islamic State, officials there said.

Hundreds of pro-government fighters have been converging on Qandala in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland since it was seized last month by forces led by insurgent leader Abdiqadir Mumin

"We now control Qandala port town. The IS fighters ran away into the hills without fighting," Puntland’s minister for planning, Shire Haji Farah, told Reuters in the northern coastal town.


Mumin used to be a commander with al Shabaab, a much larger Islamic insurgent force that is battling the weak Western-backed government to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Qandala was the first town he took since declaring allegiance to Islamic State last year. It remains unclear what sort of link he has forged with the global militant group.

(writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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