According to Somali official and media sources, an airstrike targeted a group of al Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of Ma’moodow town in Bakool province on January 29th.
According to an official statement from the Security Ministry of South West State, the attack was conducted by “friends of Somalia.”
Following requests for clarification, AFRICOM publicly denied responsibility for the event, insisting that the last US military action had been on January 19th – the last full day of the Trump presidency. .
Reports of a strike first emerged late on the night of January 29th, with Halgan Media asserting that “Sources reveal suspected US drones carried out a drone strike Tonight and bombed the Al Shabaab controlled town of Ma’moodow in the Bakool province of Somalia. Per Sources, the drone strike occurred at around 10PM local time.”
Halgan later added that “Sources confirm the (drone) strike targeted a group of Al Shabaab fighters that where conjured together in Ma’moodow and waiting for vehicles coming from the direction of Ceelbarde, when they came under attack from an American drone….Per sources the drone strike in Bakool came after Al Shabaab fighters ambushed a contingent of Ethiopian troops escorting supplies by road upon departing Ceelbarde. After the ambush, the insurgents gathered in Ma’moodow, which was followed by a strike”.
Anadolu Agency was among media citing a statement later published by the Security Ministry of Southwest State, which reportedly “said that US airstrikes killed several senior al-Shabaab commanders in the southwestern Bakool region. According to a statement issued by the ministry, the airstrikes took place in the vicinity of Ma’moodow, 410 km (254 mi) from Mogadishu.”
That statement in fact referred only to a strike by “friends of Somalia” – though officials appear to have briefed local reporters in more detail.
On February 1st 2021, responding to an email query from Airwars, AFRICOM’s public affairs team noted: “We are aware of the reporting. U.S. Africa Command was not involved in the Jan. 29 action referenced below. U.S. Africa Command last strike was conducted on Jan. 19. Our policy of acknowledging all airstrikes by either press release
or response to query has not changed.”
In light of that denial – and given a possible link between the strike and an earlier reported nearby attack on Ethiopian troops – Airwars presently determines that this was likely an AMISOM or Ethiopian action. Radio Dalsan and Badweyn Times reported the strike was conducted with fighter jets.
The incident occured at approximately 10:00 pm local time.