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 3:30 am local time.
Sources (7) [ collapse]
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.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
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."