A mystery airstrike reportedly killed between 40 and 60 alleged belligerents on January 31st 2015. Xinhua also reported that “scores of others were injured” in the attack, leaving it unclear whether those injured were civilians or militants. It was described by some as a US drone strike – thought the Pentagon denied this.
Abdulkadir Mohamed Nor Sidi – the governor of Lower Shabelle where the strike hit -reportedly told journalists that unmanned aircraft had targeted a training camp and a house which he said belonged to al Shabaab. The governor also claimed: “Unmanned aircraft also hit Shabaab armored vehicles patrolling the Dugule neighborhood in Toratorow village.”
The US military however denied it had carried out the attack, while confirming it was responsible for a drone strike at 9am local time in the Bay region the same day. AMISOM also denied carrying out the attack, saying it did not have the aircraft to carry out such actions. And the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF), which had launched air attacks in southern Somalia, told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that the strikes were “not within Sector II where KDF is mandated to operate”.
“I can confirm that between 45-60 al-Shabaab militants were killed during the airstrikes…. Some of their officials were killed also in the attack including foreigners,” Nor Sidi said, according to Horseed Media. A local resident told Xinhua: “There was a loud explosion from the village, and we ran away to escape fearing for our lives.”
If a UAV strike, it would have been the most lethal US drone strike since June 23rd 2009 when an attack killed at least 60 in Pakistan, according to Airwars data. Though claimed as a US action, the high death toll is more in keeping with reported Kenya Defence Force attacks against Shabaab. Though reported as a US strike, the high death toll appeared more in keeping with reported Kenya Defence Force attacks against Shabaab at around this time.
The incident occured in the afternoon.
Sources (3) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the village of Dugule, near Torato in the Lower Shabelle region. The generic coordinates for the village of Dugule are: 2.27893, 44.523991. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the locatioin further.