Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

SOM016a-1

Incident date

January 12, 2013

Location

Bulo Marer, Somalia

Airwars assessment

French commandos failed to a rescue a French spy held hostage by al Shabaab since 2009. Paris claimed the militants executed the captured secret service agent, known by his alias Denis Allex, during an assault by 50 Special Forces troops. However al Shabaab’s media wing said the hostage survived.

Seventeen alleged militants were reportedly killed and eight civilians died, including a child and both his parents. Four civilians were killed when they were woken by helicopters landing. They were reportedly shot when they turned on flashlights. Survivors allegedly warned the militants of the advancing French force.

AFP gave the most detail regarding the civilian casualties: “‘Four civilians, including three from one family, are among the dead. They were all killed outside Bulomarer, where the French commandos landed before entering the city,’ resident Adan Derow said by telephone. The victims were a couple, their son and another man, other residents said. ‘We don’t know why those civilians were killed’ outside Bulomarer, where the raid took place, added another resident, Ali Moalim Hassan.

“‘Four other civilians were also caught in the crossfire and died in the town of Bulomarer” during a pitched battle between French commandos and Islamist fighters. The four included a woman, her child and a local market guard, according to residents.”

Al Shabaab claimed they had moved Allex to a new location before the attack although French and Somali government sources said he was killed by his captors during the attack. The militant commander Shiekh Ahmed was reportedly killed in the gunfight. One French commando was killed and another was wounded. The injured soldier was taken by al Shabaab who said he subsequently died of his wounds.

At least five helicopters ferried the commandos from the amphibious assault ship Mistral to Bulo Marer. The French force underestimated the resistance they would face, reported AFP. An anonymous Somali aid worker told the agency: “We were told there were about 40 of them against more than 100 heavily armed Shebab fighters. Their mission was impossible and not very professional.”

The US provided “limited technical support” to the French operation. US Air Force strike fighters entered Somali air space but did not fire their weapons. The operation was reportedly timed to coincide with a French air and ground offensive in Mali. Paris denied the two African operations were connected.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Unnamed man Adult male Killed outside Bulomarer killed
  • Unnamed woman Adult female Wife of above killed
  • Unnamed child Child Child of above killed

Family members (2)

  • Unnamed woman Adult female Killed in crossfire in Bulomarer killed
  • Child Child killed
  • Unnamed man Adult male Killed outside Bulomarer killed
  • Unnamed man Adult male Local market guard killed in crossfire killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8
  • (2 children2 women3 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    French Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    17

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Denis Allex (Via al Shabaab propaganda video)

French Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    French Armed Forces
  • French Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8
  • (2 children2 women3 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    French Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    17

Sources (13) [ collapse]