A soldier from Somalia's Puntland keeps guard on high grounds at the Galgala hills, during preparations for an offense against al Shabaab militants, January 8, 2015. REUTERS/Abdiqani Hassan
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Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the United Arab Emirates not to close its security operations in the country after a dispute with the central government, saying the Gulf power was a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants.The central Somali government said last Wednesday that it was taking over a military training program run by the UAE.The UAE is one of a number of Gulf powers that have opened bases along the coast of the Horn of Africa and promised investment and donations as they compete for influence in the insecure but strategically important region.One Somali government official said last week Mogadishu had decided to take over the UAE operation because the Gulf state's contract to run it had expired.Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991 .
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