US Forces in Somalia

Library image of an armed Reaper drone, December 2019 (US Air Force/ Senior Sergeant Haley Stevens)

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USSOM013-C

Incident date

September 15, 2011

Location

Kismayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.355651, 42.545703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A single source reported that nine civilians died in alleged US drone strikes on Kismayo.

According to the source Antiwar.com, “Eyewitnesses in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo have reported a number of missile strikes, apparently fired by US drones in and around the city. Terrified residents say that several loud explosions were heard in the area.

“The militant faction al-Shabaab, which is in control of the area, says the drones hit on the outskirts of the town and killed at least nine civilians, including women and children. 30 others were reported wounded in the strikes.”

AFP reported that residents of Kismayo heard “the sound of aircraft and heavy explosions… We heard planes flying over Kismayo and minutes later there were at least three explosions,” resident Mohamed Ali told AFP by phone. “The aircraft fired heavy missiles into a jungle area where the Shebab established training camps, but we don’t know more,” Abdikarim Samow, another resident, told AFP.

Armed drones were operating from Mahe in the Seychelles (along with those used purely for surveillance), the Washington Post reported: “In the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean…a small fleet of ‘hunter-killer’ drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.”

Seychelles foreign minister Jean-Paul Adam denied the drones were armed. However, a 2009 diplomatic cable stated the US “would seek discrete [sic], specific discussions … to gain approval’ to arm the Reapers in the Seychelles ‘should the desire to do so ever arise”.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (2 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–30
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–30

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a jungle or the outskirts of Kismayo. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The generic coordinates for the city Kismayo are: -0.355651, 42.545703.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (2 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–30
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–30

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM012-C

Incident date

July 6, 2011

Location

Afmadow, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.514539, 42.074264 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In this single-source allegation, an unknown number of people were reportedly killed or wounded in possible US strikes in Afmadow district, as reported by Somalia Report. The source did not mention whether the victims were combatants or civilians.

According to Somalia Report, US drones or planes reportedly hit three al Shabaab militant training camps in Afmadow. “‘Early in the morning and before the sunrise, we heard more than five heavy blasts not far from the town. We believe it was an airstrike,’ said a resident. ‘Minutes later, we saw three military vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed to Kismayo. We believe they were carrying victims of the attack.'”

However, then-Somalia Report editor Michael Logan told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism by email that it was simply not known if US drones were behind this attack. “This is one of those that cannot be confirmed as a drone. Lots of witnesses and a TFG official do confirm an attack, so some kind of strike took place (but as you know, there are a variety of actors capable of launching missiles),” he said.

Somali deputy defence minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig said at the time, while confirming that airstrikes had occurred, that: “The foreigners and senior officials of the terrorist group are afraid. They secretly hide amongst the civilians. The airstrikes will continue until we minimize the enemy from our country.” Dr. Omar Ahmed, an academic and Somali politician, told Somalia Report that such airstrikes would increase local support for al Shabaab: “There is no reason for the western countries to use airstrikes against al-Shabaab. It will only increase the generations supporting al Shabaab.”

The incident occured around dawn.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–3

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Original Somalia Report copy via Wayback

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in Afmadoow, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.514539, 42.074264. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–3

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM011

Incident date

June 28, 2011

Location

Taabta, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.305181, 41.440288 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In a news feature looking at drone strikes in Somalia, Somalia Report stated that on this day, “another [US] attack occurred in Taabta village in the Afmadow District of Lower Juba.” The report indicated that the target was al Shabaab.

“AFRICOM does have terrorism in its list of applications and as of June JSOC’s hunter killers have been quietly tucked up inside the brass bloated command. On April 6th [2011] shortly after the exploitation of data from captured al qaeda cel phones and laptops, three dozen al shabaab members were killed. On June 24th, helos from Camp Simba took out a Shabaab convoy 4 days later another attack occurred in Taabta village in the Afmadow District of Lower Juba.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the village of Taabta, for which the coordinates are: 0.305181, 41.440288. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM010

Incident date

June 21–23, 2011

Location

Kismayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.404956, 42.498817 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In the first known lethal drone strike in Somalia, Predators struck a militant training camp 10km south of Kismayo. Further missiles reportedly hit a second target near the airport. At least one member of Al-Shabaab was killed – possibly “many” – and up to three were wounded, according to local and international media. There were no reports of civilian harm.

Several sources reported at least one militant’s death while other pointed to “many”. Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig, Somalia’s deputy defence minister, told AP the strike killed “many” foreign fighters. “I have their names, but I don’t want to release them,” he claimed.

Ibrahim al Afghani, also known as Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, a senior leader in al Shabaab, was reportedly wounded or killed, although Strategic Forecasting claimed on August 11th 2011 that Afghani was alive and had replaced Ahmed Abdi Godane as the emir of al Shabaab.

Al Shabaab did not respond to either report, though Afghani has not appeared in public since. Somali Report, however, cited an al Shabaab official who claimed that no militants were killed.

Meanwhile, between one and three militants were wounded, according to reports. A local al Shabaab leader, Sheik Hassan Yaqub, reported two wounded while resident Mohammed Aden reported seeing three wounded militants. Among them was British citizen Bilal al Berjawi, killed in a subsequent US drone strike in January 2012.

There was no public announcement of the strike by the US. However, an anonymous  “senior U.S. military official familiar with the operation” told the Washington Post “a U.S. drone aircraft fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them”.

The Washington Post added: “Both of the al-Shabab leaders targeted in the attack had ‘direct ties’ to American-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, the military official said.” However, the Post reported that “The White House declined” to respond to questions about the attack.

US helicopters reportedly landed after the strike, with troops retrieving some dead and injured. The strike was the first joint mission conducted by JSOC and the CIA, CNN claimed.

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM said it had conducted a strike on what it says was an “al-Shabaab name objective”, in Ras Matooni, Somalia on June 21st 2011. This is the closest match we have for this strike.

It remains possible that there were other US actions – perhaps covert – around this time. The Long War Journal said that a “Predator” strike occurred on June 25th. And Somalia Report flagged an incident the previous day, asserting that “On June 24th, helos from Camp Simba took out a Shabaab convoy.”

The incident occured between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–3

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy near a training camp 10 kilometers south of Kismayo. A subsequent FOIA response pointed to the vicinity of the area Ras Matooni (-0.46484, 42.47665). The coordinates for the area 10 kilometers south of Kismayo are: -0.404956, 42.498817. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

On June 30th 2011, the Washington Post reported:

A U.S. drone aircraft fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them, a senior U.S. military official familiar with the operation said Wednesday.

The strike last week against senior members of al-Shabab comes amid growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.

The action was publicly confirmed in a DoD FOIA response in 2019.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–3

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM009

Incident date

April 3, 2011

Location

Dhoobley, Gedo, Somalia

Geolocation

0.411429, 41.008691 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At least one militant and as many as “three dozen” were killed in an alleged US-waged airstrike in Dhobley, Jubaland, international and regional media reported. The attack marked the beginning of a concerted campaign in Somalia against al Shabaab by the Obama administration.

After a reporting gap of 18 months, US air attacks appear to have resumed. Reports of intense fighting for control of the town of Dhobley between al Shabaab and Somali forces mentioned an airstrike, which Shabelle reported had killed several militants. Somalia Report stated: “On April 6, shortly after the exploitation of data from captured al-Qaeda cell phones and laptops, three dozen al Shabab members were killed”, although later reports say only one commander was killed. Jabreel Malik Muhammed was killed in the strike, according to the Observer (Uganda).

The Long War Journal reported: “A recent report in Shabelle on the fighting in the border town of Dhobley in southern Somalia and the death of a Shabaab commander includes speculation that airpower is being employed against Shabaab fighters and commanders…Some reports suggested that during the battle, aerial strikes targeted Al Shabaab officials, killing number of Al Shabaab military officers.The Somali government and the African Union forces backing them do not possess aircraft needed to carry out airstrikes, but Ethiopia, Kenya, and the US do.”

In what may be a linked incident, All Africa reported two days after the attack that “Dozens of injured Al shabaab fighters from Dholey town, where fighting between Somali forces and Al shabaab took place one day ago, were brought to Kismayo town, about 500 KM south of Mogadishu. Sources confirmed Shabelle Media Network that the wounded Al shabaab fighters were admitted medical facilities at the center of Kismayo town.”

Somalia Report also asserted that “On April 6th shortly after the exploitation of data from captured al qaeda cel phones and laptops, three dozen al shabaab members were killed.” This may indicate a separate event several days later.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–36

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the border town Dhoobley, for which the coordinates are: 0.411429, 41.008691. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Ethiopian Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Ethiopian Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Kenyan Military Forces
  • Kenyan Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–36

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM008-C

Incident date

September 14, 2009

Location

مدينة ﺑﺮﺍﻭة, Baraawe, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.112554, 44.028921 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to six people, including at least one possible civilian, were killed and at least two possible civilians were wounded, as a US-launched raid targeted and reportedly killed a high value al Qaeda/ al Shabab member, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, international media reported.

The attack marked the first known lethal operation by US forces in Somalia of the Obama administration.

In an operation codenamed ‘Celestial Balance’ US Special Forces launched a helicopter raid into Somalia, killing Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, wanted in connection with the Mombasa attacks. “We’d been tracking him for years,” a senior military official told Sean D. Naylor, in the Army Times. “We knew his travel route, we knew the vehicles he was using.” Three options were initially mooted to Obama and his senior advisers: to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from a warship off the Somali coast; a helicopter attack on the convoy, or a ‘snatch and grab operation attempting to take Nabhan alive. According to Klaidman “as everyone left the meeting that evening it was clear that the only viable plan was the lethal one.”

The US learned that Nabhan’s convoy would be setting off from Mogadishu to meet Islamic militants in the coastal town of Baraawe, the Daily Beast reported. As the convoy neared Baraawe, JSOC struck. A number of 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment AH-6 Little Bird helicopters flew from a Navy ship and attacked the militants as they were breakfasting, killing six, including Nabhan, according to news reports, including Army Times. However, NPR reported that SEAL commandos fired missiles into Nabhan’s car.

The Army Times and Daily Beast stated that one helicopter also landed, with operators jumping out to load the bodies of Nabhan and three others into the aircraft, in order to retrieve Nabhan’s DNA. Following this operation, a Pentagon official told the Daily Beast that the US Special Forces wanted to increase their use of Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), not just to kill terror targets but to rummage through their belongings”, but that “the president was not supportive” and that this became a bone of contention between Special Ops and the Obama administration.

It was unclear among sources how many militants exactly were killed, and whether civilians were among the victims. While both the Guardian and Long War Journal said that two people were killed (Nabhan and another terrorist), Mareeg, which also reported two deaths, only noted that one of them was a belligerent, suggesting a civilian fatality.

The number of killed militants thus spans from two to six, as reported by Army Times, while one civilian death cannot be excluded.

Several sources reported that the attack also wounded two people, whose combatant status again remains unclear among reports.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known targets
    Al Qaeda in East Africa, Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–6
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was wanted by the FBI in connection with two attacks in 2002. Image via Kenyan Police

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle as it travelled through a village near Baraawe, heading south from Mogadishu. The coordinates for the town of Baraawe are: 1.112554, 44.028921. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

TIME, September 9th, 2009:

"The deadly drama of piracy, terrorism and humanitarian catastrophe that is Somalia took another twist on Sept. 14. A squad of U.S. special operations helicopter gunships, which were launched off a Navy vessel in the Indian Ocean, attacked and killed an alleged al-Qaeda leader in Somalia, U.S. officials told TIME. The dead man was believed to be Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a 28-year-old Kenyan wanted for attacks on a seaside hotel and an Israeli airliner in 2002 in Kenya."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known targets
    Al Qaeda in East Africa, Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–6
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM007-C

Incident date

May 1, 2008

Location

Dusa Marreb, Galgaduud, Somalia

Geolocation

5.536238, 46.384700 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At least five and as many as 30 civilians, including children and one woman, were reportedly killed as US-launched missiles targeted and killed several top al Shabab commanders in Dusa Marreb, a Somali village near the Ethiopian border, local and international sources reported.

Around 3am local time on May 1st, 2008, US naval-launched cruise missiles struck the vicinity of a compound in Dusa Marreb, killing, among other militants, the head of the Somali Islamist movement al Shabaab, Aden Hashi Ayro (see also SOM001), which had growing ties with Al Qaeda. Some reports claimed an AC-130 gunship was also involved in the attack.

An American military official in Washington told the New York Times: “[A]t least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb, a well-known hide-out for Mr. Ayro and his associates. The military official and two American intelligence officials said all indications were that Mr. Ayro was killed, along with several top lieutenants, but the attack was still being assessed.”

Insurgent leaders had been meeting in Dusa Marreb, al Shabaab-controlled broadcaster Shabelle reported, putting the death toll at 15. A Shabaab spokesperson, Mukhtar Ali Robow, told Reuters: ‘Infidel planes bombed Dusa Marreb… Two of our important people, including Ayro, were killed.’ Sheikh Muhyadin Omar was among the dead, according to the Long War Journal and Africa Confidential. Residents said ‘several other Shabaab fighters and civilians were killed, Reuters reported. Half a dozen senior Al Shabaab commanders and Ayro’s brother were killed in the strike, according to Africa Confidential.

The civilian toll spanned from “several” to as many as 30 across the sources. Some reports put the toll at “at least ten”, while Africa Confidential reported that Ayro’s wife and children, and people from nearby houses, were also reported dead. Another local resident, Jamal Mohamoud, told AFP that he had seen eight bodies in the destroyed house.

Finally, The New York Times, citing local witnesses, reported that “as many as 30 people were dead and that residents were counting skulls to determine the number.”

After Ayro’s death, al Shabaab reportedly suspected the US had tracked him through his iPhone and had banned the use of similar devices.

The incident occured between 2:00 am and 3:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Wife of Aden Hashi Ayro Adult female killed
  • Child 1 of Aden Hashi Ayro Child killed
  • Child 2 of Aden Hashi Ayro Child killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 30
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Locals of Dusa Marreb walking through the rubble of the compound the day after it was hit by a May 1st, 2008 US missile strike (via Abdi Guled/ Reuters/ New York Times)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted residential buildings in the town of Dusa Marreb, for which the generic coordinates are: 5.536238, 46.384700. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

The New York Times, May 2nd, 2008:

"An American military official in Washington, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation, said at least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb, a well-known hide-out for Mr. Ayro and his associates. The military official and two American intelligence officials said all indications were that Mr. Ayro was killed, along with several top lieutenants, but the attack was still being assessed.
“This was in the works for some time,” said the official. He said American intelligence agents had been tracking Mr. Ayro for weeks through a combination of communications intercepts, satellite imagery and other intelligence."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 30
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM006-C

Incident date

March 3, 2008

Location

Dhoobley, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.411429, 41.008691 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to six civilians were killed and as many as eight wounded as the US fired at least one and as many as three cruise missiles at Dhobley, a town in southern Somalia four miles from the Kenyan border, local and international sources reported.

Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told AFP: “On March 2, the US conducted an attack against a known al Qaeda terrorist in southern Somalia.”

The Long War Journal reported the strike targeted Ras Kamboni Brigades leader Hassan Turki and al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. He was a member of al Qaeda’s ruling Shura Council and reportedly controlled the group’s East Africa cells. The US had put a $25m bounty on his head. Despite anonymous officials claiming it was a cruise missile strike, an Islamist spokesperson and locals said the town was bombed and civilian targets hit in an attack carried out by a US AC-130 gunship. As Monsters and Critics reported: “‘I woke up to loud blasts and flashing lights that shook my doors and windows. Airplanes were flying at a low altitude and were firing. I ran outside and hid under trees,’ said Saed Abdulle, an elder in Dobley, which is just north of the border with Kenya.”

There were conflicting reports of casualties in the strike. A local elder, Abdullahi Sheikh Duale, said four civilians were killed. Meanwhile, witnesses said at least six people were killed in the strike.

Regarding the number of wounded, a police officer told AP that eight people were injured. However, Dhobley residents told the New York Times three civilians were wounded in the attack that partly destroyed a house. The only fatalities were three cows and a donkey, they said.

Official US sources indicated that several al Qaeda members were killed in the attack, possibly including Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, as noted by the Washington Post.

The incident occured at 03:30:00 local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–8
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • A cruise missile of the type likely fired by US forces on Dhobley, March 3, 2008 (via AFP)
  • Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was wanted by the FBI in connection with two attacks in 2002. Image via Kenyan Police

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that two houses in the town of Dhoobley (4 miles from the Kenyan border) were targeted and that witnesses/neighbours fled under tree cover. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. However, the coordinates for the town Dhoobley are: 0.411429, 41.008691.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

AFP, March 3rd, 2008:

"The US military fired at least one cruise missile into southern Somalia near the Kenyan border, targeting an Al-Qaeda leader believed to be hiding there, a US military official said Monday.
"On March 2, the US conducted an attack against a known Al-Qaeda terrorist in southern Somalia," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington.
Whitman would provide no details on the type of attack, the identity of the target, or the outcome.
But another military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least one cruise missile, and possibly more, was launched at the target in southern Somalia.
"They're still trying to assess the damage, the effectiveness," the official said, but did not elaborate on how the assessment was being carried out."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–8
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (7) [ collapse]