Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM217

Incident date

May 5, 2019

Location

Vicinity of Tortoroow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.25045, 44.69117 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike in the vicinity of Tortoroow, according to a press release from US Africa Command issued the following day.

AFRICOM asserted that three al Shabaab fighters were killed, and that it currently assessed that no civilians were harmed in the action.

It further noted that the precision airstrike was used in self-defence of Somali partners: “Somali forces were leading an operation to disrupt the terrorist network in the area and to bolster local support for the Federal Government of Somalia.  The airstrike was conducted in collective self-defense of our Somali partners after they were engaged by al-Shabaab militants during this operation.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village Tortoroow, for which the coordinates are: 2.25045, 44.69117. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. target al-Shabaab terrorists

To support the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Tortoroow, Somalia, on May 5, 2019.

By U.S. AFRICA COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, United States Africa CommandStuttgart, GermanyMay 06, 2019

To support the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Tortoroow, Somalia, on May 5, 2019.

Somali forces were leading an operation to disrupt the terrorist network in the area and to bolster local support for the Federal Government of Somalia. The airstrike was conducted in collective self-defense of our Somali partners after they were engaged by al-Shabaab militants during this operation.

“This airstrike is an example of the niche capabilities we provide our Somali partners as they take the fight to al-Shabaab,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “Our precision strike capabilities support our Somali partners as they continue to lead operations against the terrorist network.”

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed three al-Shabaab terrorists.
Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. When warranted, processes and procedures exist that allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM218

Incident date

May 5, 2019

Location

جيليب, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.494527, 42.777868 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

The Somali military said that double US strikes near Jilib town killed 16 al Qaeda and al Shabaab fighters, according to Radio Risaala. US Africa Command did not however publish a press release for this event – though it did report a strike on the same date near Tortoroow.

Quoting an anonymous military official, Risaala said that the first strike at Jilib targeted a vehicle carrying group’s chief of Intelligence Unit in charge of Mogadishu, Khalid Aboukar Hassan, while the second raid killed 16 other militants. It was unclear which group Hassan belonged to.

Security Intelligence claimed that “Somali special forces backed by US troops raided al-Shabaab base near Jilib over the weekend. At least 16 al Shabaab militants were killed in the raid that saw a bomb factory and living quarters of the militants destroyed.  According to Somali military officials, the joint troops backed by airpower raided an explosive assembling center near Jilib in Lower Juba region before launching another attack on-base housing al-Shabaab Amniyat elite unit commander, Khalid Abukar Hussein.”

According to Jinaay, 13 fighters died at the bomb factory; while Hassan and his two bodyguards were killed in the other strike.

Asked whether it had been responsible for this event, in February 2020 a senior AFRICOM official told Airwars that this was not the case. However, this may not preclude actions by the CIA which conducts its own undeclared strikes in Somalia

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    16–18

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the town Jilib, for which the coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    16–18

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM216

Incident date

April 26, 2019

Location

Timirshe, Bari, Somalia

Geolocation

10.56245, 50.42396 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike targeting ISIS-Somalia and possibly also al Shabaab in the vicinity  of Timirshe, in the Golis Mountains.

According to a press release from US Africa Command issued the following day, three fighters from the terrorist group were killed, with AFRICOM currently assessing that no civilians had been harmed in the strike.

“This airstrike eliminated ISIS-Somalia members staged in a remote location in Northern Somalia,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, US Africa Command director of operations. “This is the second precision airstrike U.S. Africa Command has executed in coordination with our Somali partners against ISIS-Somalia this month. The first airstrike occurred on April 14, killing the second in command of ISIS-Somalia, Abdulhakim Dhuqub.”

Garowe Online had reported on the day of the action that suspected US airstrikes had been conducted in the Puntland area. Their anonymous source claimed that the strikes hit two “hideouts of terror groups” in the vicinity of Timirshe. Six missiles were reportedly fired – four targeting an ISIS base, while the other two targeted approximately 200 al Shabaab fighters at a nearby water well, it claimed – noting that “The locality has been the scene of recent clashes between the two groups who are fighting for control as they face intensified military offensives from Puntland defence forces and US military.”

Garowe Online also said that there were conflicting reports of the casualty numbers, with one local resident saying that “several militants” were killed. In a separate tweet, Garowe said that “The #Daesh militants were in… Ameero and #AlShabab in Siido, two valleys between mountains in #Bari province of #Puntland state.”

Reuters  spoke to an witness who said that missiles struck two wells on the outskirts of Timirshe village. “‘We heard the crash of four missiles on the outskirts of Timirshe village,’ resident Ahmed Nur told Reuters by telephone. He said the wells were used by militants from both IS and their more powerful Islamist rivals al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate who have been fighting Somalia’s UN-backed government for years… A Puntland intelligence official said the air strike targeted both groups. ‘There are casualties and we are investigating. In recent battles al Shabaab captured three bases from IS,’ he told Reuters by telephone, requesting anonymity.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al-Shabaab, ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • Article on SOM152 26/04/2019 airstrike

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted two wells on the outskirts of the village Timirshe, in the Iskushuban district. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for the village Timirshe are: 10.56245, 50.42396.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Somali Forces & U.S. Africa Command Conduct Airstrike Targeting ISIS-Somalia
In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade violent extremist organizations, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting ISIS-Somalia terrorists in the Golis Mountains, Somalia, on April 26, 2019.

By U.S. AFRICA COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, United States Africa CommandStuttgart, GermanyApr 27, 2019

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade violent extremist organizations, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting ISIS-Somalia terrorists in the Golis Mountains, Somalia, on April 26, 2019.

"This airstrike eliminated ISIS-Somalia members staged in a remote location in Northern Somalia,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “Removing these extremists impacts ISIS-Somalia’s ability to terrorize innocent Somalis in the region and it creates confusion within the terrorist network.”

This is the second precision airstrike U.S. Africa Command has executed in coordination with our Somali partners against ISIS-Somalia this month. The first airstrike occurred on April 14, killing the second in command of ISIS-Somalia, Abdulhakim Dhuqub.

U.S. Africa Command precision airstrikes support Somali security force activities and build enhanced security conditions to allow time and space for governance and economic development to occur.

At this time, it is assessed the airstrike on April 26 killed three (3) terrorists. A detailed post-strike analysis continues and more details may be released as appropriate.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. Our process and procedures allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al-Shabaab, ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM215

Incident date

April 19, 2019

Location

Vicinity of Jamaame, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.06978, 42.748066 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike in the vicinity of Jamaame, Lower Juba Region, according to a press release issued the next day by US Africa Command.

It was later reported that one of those killed had been responsible for the death of a US soldier in Somalia in June 2018.

AFRICOM’s initial press release on April 20th asserted only that two al Shabaab terrorists were killed in the strike, and that it currently assessed that no civilians were harmed.

The statement further noted: “Two years ago, al-Shabaab maintained a level of freedom of movement that allowed the group to terrorize and displace Somali citizens in the Lower Juba River Valley, which is near Kismayo. Today, our Somali and AMISOM partners have pushed the extremist group back up the river valley, establishing multiple combat outposts along the way in order to ensure our partners can hold the territory they have successfully retaken.”

The Wall Street Journal later reported that “An April 19 U.S. airstrike in Somalia killed the al-Shabaab militant believed responsible for an American soldier’s death last year in an attack on an isolated outpost, according to the U.S. military. Abdullahi Jiibiyow was hit as he and another militant were riding a motorcycle about 10 miles from the village of Sanguuni in southern Somalia, a U.S. military official said.”

According to Army Times, Jibiyow was “a mortar team leader responsible for multiple attacks in the Lower Juba River Valley, in southern Somalia, according to U.S. Africa Command.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the town of Jamaame, for which the coordinates are: 0.06978, 42.748066. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to weaken al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Jamaame, Lower Juba Region, Somalia, on April 19, 2019 (...)

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed two al-Shabaab terrorists.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM214

Incident date

April 14, 2019

Location

3 km away from Xiriiro, on the way to Hol Anod, Bari, Somalia

Geolocation

9.974438, 50.277735 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike against ISIS-Somalia in the vicinity of Xiriiro, Bari Region, killing one high value militant and at least one other alleged fighter.

According to AFRICOM – which took the unusual step of publicly naming the target within 24 hours of the operation – the strike killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, second in command of ISIS-Somalia who was reportedly responsible for daily operations of the extremist group, including attack planning and resource procurement.

The press release further asserted that only Dhuqub was killed in the attack, and that one vehicle was also destroyed. US Africa Command said it currently assessed that no civilians were harmed in the strike.

AP indicated that two or more died in the strike: “Puntland’s security minister Abdisamad Mohamed Galan also confirmed the killing of the extremist leader in the U.S. airstrike, which said also killed other members of the group, without giving further details. The airstrike occurred as the extremists were traveling to their base in the remote mountainous villages in the region, said a Somali intelligence official. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.”

According to Voice of America, two people died in the attack: “Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, security Minister of the Puntland region, told VOA Somali the airstrike that killed Abdihakim Mohamed Ibrahim,  known as Dhoqob, took place Sunday between the villages of Hol Anod and Hiriro.

“Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in. He said both men were killed but the other person has not yet been identified. ‘The vehicle was burned,’ said a witness who didn’t want to be named.”

VOA reporter Harun Maruf also tweeted a video which he said showed the burnt out shell of the struck vehicle on a remote sandy road: “Video purportedly shows the burning vehicle that Abdihakim Dhoqob (aka Abdihakim Dhoqobeed) was riding in when hit by an airstrike near Hiriro village, Bari region. Puntland Security minister Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan tells me that Dhoqob was killed in the strike.”

According to Reuters “A witness said a 4×4 vehicle was hit by several missiles 3 km (2 miles) outside the village of Xiriiro in the Qandala hills at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Sunday.”

“Several missiles hit a Suzuki car. Then helicopters hovered over the scene,” Mohamed Iid, a resident of Xiriiro, told Reuters. “It was a deafening air strike. We reached the scene after the helicopters left. The car completely melted.”

Fox News noted that “Not much is known about Dhuqub; his name does not appear on the State Dept.’s Reward for Justice website normally reserved for top terrorists and there is not much information publicly available online. ISIS-Somalia is a relatively small terrorist group consisting of roughly 125 fighters, according to officials.”

The Long War Journal provided some context foir the strike: “Dhuqub, whose real name was Abdihakim Mohamed Ibrahim, was the overall deputy emir of ISS. He assumed this role after the death of the previous deputy emir, Mahad Moalim, in Mogadishu late last year… In 2018, ISS was able to expand its operation across Somalia. Last year, it claimed 66 offensives alone; while in the previous two years combined it only claimed 39 attacks. It also also been able to reach into central Somalia, which was previously untouched by the Islamic State wing, as well as Mogadishu and its surroundings. According to local officials, it has also been collecting taxes on civilians and businesses in rural Puntland as well as in the port city of Bosaso.

“Its operational tempo has not slowed despite a renewed Shabaab effort against the group. So far this year it has already claimed 26 assaults, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Yesterday’s strike that killed Dhuqub was the first by the US military that targeted ISS’ network in Somalia since Nov. 2017. AFRICOM hit ISS four times that month. No senior ISS leaders were killed in those strikes.”

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • Burnt out vehicle in which ISIS number two in Somalia Abdihakim Dhoqob died in a US strike on April 14th 2019 (via VOA)
  • Reported site of a confirmed US strike on April 15th which killed ISIS's deputy leader in Somalia (via Garowe)
  • Burnt out shell of vehcile destroyed in a US strike in Somalia, April 15th 2019 (via Garowe)

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle between the villages Xiriiro and Hol Anod (or Hul Canood), 3 kilometers outside of Xiriiro in the Qandala hills. The coordinates for Xiriiro are: 9.97824, 50.25085; the coordinates for Hol Anod/Hul Canood are: 9.68385, 50.60734. And the coordinates for the area 3 kilometers outside of Xiriiro, on the way to Hol Anod, are: 9.974438, 50.277735. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The villages Xiriiro and Hol Anod, with surrounding roads marked in yellow and a 3 kilometer radius around Xiriiro marked in red

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • The coordinates for the area 3 kilometers outside of Xiriiro (marked in red), on the way to Hol Anod, are: 9.974438, 50.277735

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"U.S. confirms airstrike against ISIS-Somalia’s Abdulhakim Dhuqub.
In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade violent extremist organizations, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Xiriiro, Bari Region, Somalia, on April 14, 2019, killing Abdulhakim Dhuqub, a high ranking ISIS-Somalia official."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM213

Incident date

April 11, 2019

Location

Garowle, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.65594, 44.29532 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike in Garowle, Lower Shabelle region, according to a press release issued by US Africa Command the following day.

The release asserted that two terrorists were killed in the strike, and that one motorcycle was also destroyed. It further noted that AFRICOM currently assessed that no civilians were harmed in the event.

No additional public details are presently known about this event.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village Garowle (or Garawlay), for which the coordinates are: 1.65594, 44.29532. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Garowle, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on April 11, 2019 (...)

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed two (2) terrorists and destroyed one (1) motorcycle.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM212

Incident date

April 9, 2019

Location

جيليب, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.494527, 42.777868 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike in Jilib, Middle Juba region, according to a press release issued the following day by US Africa Command.

AFRICOM asserted that one terrorist was killed in the strike, and that it currently assessed that no civilians were harmed in the action.

For the first time and in the wake of a recent admission of civilian harm, US Africa Command also noted that “when warranted, processes and procedures exist that allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis” with regard to civilian casualties, adding a new layer of transparency to their reporting.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the town Jilib, for which the coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to weaken al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Middle Juba Region, Somalia, on April 9, 2019 (...)

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed one (1) terrorist.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM209-C

Incident date

March 18, 2019

Location

Laantabuur or Abdow Dibile, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.0913, 45.0693 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Up to four civilians were killed in a US strike in the Lower Shabelle region, international media and investigating NGOs reported from the ground, though US Africa Command claimed that the strike had only killed three “terrorists.” It later again officially denied causing any civilian casualties.

Initially, allegations of civilian harm came from a Reuters journalist who spoke to a relative of someone who reportedly died in Laanta Buuro.

Abdiqadir Nur, an employee of the telecommunications company Hormuud Telecom died alongside three others at what was initially described as 04:30 local time as they drove through the village of Laanta Buuro, Reuters reported.

A later investigation published in Foreign Policy by freelance journalist Amanda Sperber, suggests that at least one of those killed – and possibly two others – had no connection to terrorism.

“Ibrahim Hirei had been driving back to Mogadishu with two friends on March 18 when his car was hit in an American airstrike. Hirei, who had spent the day in the village of Muuri inspecting his family’s farm, was killed, along with a second man in the car. The third passenger died later in the hospital,” Sperber reported.

“My innocent brother became a victim of that airstrike. Now we are struggling to manage the life of the family left behind,” Hirei’s older brother, Ahmed Hassan Hirei, told Foreign Policy in a text message.

US Africa Command said in their initial press release issued the day after the event that they were aware of reports that alleged civilian harm as a result of this strike. They noted: “As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties.”

In September 2019, Amnesty International issued an extensive report on the case, having interviewed eleven witnesses, and insisting that the three victims of the attack “were  in fact civilian farmers with no evidence of links to the armed group [al Shabaab].”

“On 18 March 2019, Abdiqadir and Mahad Nur Ibrahim and Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey were travelling towards the hamlet of Abdow Dibile from the village of Muuri, Lower Shabelle, in a white Toyota Surf SUV. They had been visiting their farms near Muuri that day, as they often would, and were returning from the farms to their respective homes in Mogadishu, Leego and Yaaq Bariwayne. Between 3 and 4pm, when the vehicle was approximately 750m north of Abdow Dibile, it was hit and destroyed by a munition launched by a US aircraft.

“A friend of Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim, living in Mogadishu, told Amnesty International that he learned on the night of the attack of his death from a relative of Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim. Early the following morning, the friend left Mogadishu and travelled to Abdow Dibile. At around 8am he arrived in the hamlet where he found Mahad Nur Ibrahim, badly burnt but alive, inside a vehicle bound for hospital. Amnesty International also viewed photographs of these injuries.

[Before his death almost three weeks later,] Mahad Nur Ibrahim told his friend that the three men had been travelling from their farms near Muuri, when their car was struck.

“Shortly after they spoke, Mahad Nur Ibrahim was driven to Digfeer hospital in Mogadishu, approximately 30km away. “Mahad later succumbed to his injuries and died in a Mogadishu hospital,” the friend told Amnesty International. According to hospital records viewed by Amnesty International, Mahad Nur Ibrahim died on 6 April 2019. The records state that the cause of death was cardiac arrest, after suffering from sepsis and burns on more than 50% of his body.

“The friend described to Amnesty International what the scene of the attack looked like when he arrived, and how he identified the two victims whose bodies remained at the scene. On arrival, he found Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey’s body cut into pieces and lying near the wreckage, after local people had removed him from the back of the vehicle. Amnesty International reviewed photographs that appear to show Ibrahim’s burnt head and torso.

“The friend and relatives of Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim and Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey buried the two men in Abdow Dibile on Tuesday 19 March. An elder in the Wadalaan Gorgaate clan and distant cousin of Abdiqadir and Mahad Nur Ibrahim explained that the families of the men received no support from the Somalia or US government after losing their loved ones.

“No one apologized or even asked us about their death. We came together as a family after their death, but we just could not give them any support. We left it to God. We don’t know what actually happened and why they were killed, maybe it was a mistake. We would like justice to be served and the families of the deceased supported.”

“Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim was a father of eight. He owned electric generators supplying the village of Leego in Wanlaweyn district, Lower Shabelle, and farmed land near Muuri, in Afgoye district. He was also the head of Hormuud’s Leego office. Mahad Nur Ibrahim was a father of four. Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey was a father of seven. In addition to farming, he leased out farm equipment and ran a business transporting foodstuff between Mogadishu and Muuri. Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey previously lived with his family in Muuri, but they fled to Mogadishu five years ago due to the conflict between Biyamal and Habargidir clans.

“Amnesty International interviewed family members, neighbours, and colleagues of the victims, all of whom unequivocally stated that the men were not members of Al-Shabaab.

“All 11 people Amnesty International spoke to were adamant that the three men were civilians. “He was not Al-Shabaab” a relative of Mahad Nur Ibrahim explained. “He owned a truck and he transported charcoal to Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab banned charcoal business in Leego and Lower Shabelle so he was not doing much in the past two years. He wanted to invest in the farms with the help of his brother, but both were killed while coming back from the farms.”

“A Habargidir clan elder and relative of Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey was also clear on this point: “I can confirm before anyone that Ibrahim was a civilian and not an Al-Shabaab guy”. Another relative concurred: “He was a civilian, he was not member of Al-Shabaab. If he were Al-Shabaab we would not have run away from the Biyamal-Habargidir conflict. We were basically IDPs in Mogadishu with Ibrahim supporting us. I don’t know why he was targeted. It was a clear aggression.”

“According to a fellow employee at Hormuud who Amnesty International interviewed, as well as relatives, Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim had worked for Hormuud for over a decade and was also not an Al-Shabaab member. Those who knew the men questioned why they had been killed. “I don’t know why [Abdiqadir’s] car was targeted but I think it was a mistake,” a friend said. “The three people who were killed in that car were farmers and not members of Al-Shabaab”.

“In addition to the testimonies, there is additional circumstantial evidence which indicates that the deceased were civilians. Al-Shabaab did not treat the three men as if they were members of the armed group. Families of the victims were not prevented from recovering the bodies and taking the injured to hospital. Testimony gathered throughout Amnesty International’s research in Somalia has consistently shown that Al-Shabaab will collect and bury their dead themselves, often before they permit civilians back into the area. Additionally, Mahad Nur Ibrahim was transported from Abdow Dibile to government-controlled Mogadishu, where he was treated at Digfeer hospital, a civilian facility, where it would have been relatively easy for Somalia government forces to question or arrest him.”

The identity of a possible fourth victim originally cited by Reuters has not been publicly determined. As of late 2019, Africom was still assessing the civilian harm allegations related to this event. US investigative journalist Nick Turse obtained via FOIA a declassified document listing recent locally-alleged civilian harm from US actions, which AFRICOM was reviewing. The third entry notes for the date March 18th 2019 that “[redacted source] posted an article alleging that a U.S. airstrike killed and wounded a number of civilians in a vehicle in the vicinity of Awdeegle… Outcome PENDING.”

In April 2020, AFRICOM overtly denied causing civilian harm in this event: “March 18, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from an online media source claiming between three to four (3-4) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Afgooye, Somalia, on March 18, 2019. AFRICOM received three duplicate allegations of this incident on April 29, 2019, May 7, 2019, and August 29, 2019, from online media sources, and one duplicate allegation again on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization.

“After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. U.S. intelligence confirmed the identity of the individuals as al-Shabaab militants involved in logistics operations. The vehicle and occupants were observed in support of known al-Shabaab locations, and strike video indicates that the effects of the strike were limited to the vehicle. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

Given that all local sources as well as a major Amnesty field investigation determined that some or all of the victims were in fact non combatants, Airwars continues to grade this as a likely US civilian harm event.

The incident occured at approximately 4:30 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim 46 years old male "an employee of telecommunications company Hormuud Telecom". Combat status unclear, though Reuters suggest he was a civilian. killed
  • Mahad Nur Ibrahim 46 years old male Half brother of Abdiqadir. Injured and later died. According to Reuters, he was "totally burnt". It's unclear whether he later died. Reuters suggest he was a civilian. killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 4
  • (3–4 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Horn News published what it implied was a victim of the strike - likely to be Mahad Nur Ibrahim, who later died of his injuries.
  • Destroyed vehicle - presumably from this event - publoished by Amnesty International in its September 2019 report.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle driving through the village of Laantabuur (or Laanta Buuro) near the town of Afgooye. Amnesty placed the precise coordinates at Abdow Dibile: 2.0913, 45.0693

  • Geolocation via Amnesty International. Original caption: This image shows a partial panorama of the air strike scene, overlaid on a satellite image showing the same location on 9 April, 2019, several weeks after the air strike. © Amnesty International. Source Image: © 2019 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar Company.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • March 18, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from an online media source claiming between three to four (3-4) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Afgooye, Somalia, on March 18, 2019. AFRICOM received three duplicate allegations of this incident on April 29, 2019, May 7, 2019, and August 29, 2019, from online media sources, and one duplicate allegation again on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. U.S. intelligence confirmed the identity of the individuals as al-Shabaab militants involved in logistics operations. The vehicle and occupants were observed in support of known al-Shabaab locations, and strike video indicates that the effects of the strike were limited to the vehicle. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to weaken al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Awdheegle, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on March 18, 2019 (...)

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed three (3) terrorists.

Also, we are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this airstrike. As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 4
  • (3–4 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (6) [ collapse]