A US air strike reportedly killed five people – all of them said to be al Shabaab fighters. The attack was defensive and conducted to protect African troops on the ground, an Africom spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The Ugandan soldiers, part of the African Union peacekeeping force Amisom, were attacking a makeshift roadblock set up by al Shabaab. The roadblock was approximately 40km southwest of Mogadishu, demonstrating the degree al Shabaab continue to enjoy free movement through Somalia’s rural areas. The Ugandan contingent got into a firefight with about 15 to 20 al Shabaab fighters and the US provided them with air support.
Unnamed US defence officials told CNN that US forces who were mentoring the African soldiers came under fire, but the Africom spokesperson denied this. She described the operation to the Bureau in an email:
“We are in an advise and assist role with Amisom forces from troop contributing nations. These forces work together to conduct counter-terrorism operations against al Shabaab. And this time it was Ugandan Amisom troops came under fire from al Shabaab fighters, as the Amisom forces were stopping an illegal al Shabaab check point. Subsequently in the early morning of May 12 the US conducted defensive fires against the al Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia who posed an imminent threat to the Amisom forces.”
In a June 27th 2016 press release, AFRICOM said it had in fact carried out two “defensive fire missions all took place in remote locations in Somalia under al-Shabaab control” – which may or may not have been at the same locations. For the present, Airwars is counting these as a single event.
The incident occured in the morning.
Sources (6) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the village of Sabiid, near Afgoye, for which the coordinates are: 2.12943, 45.03595. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
U.S. forces did not come under fire as previously reported.
We are in an advise and assist role with AMISOM forces from troop contributing nations. These forces work together to conduct counter-terrorism operations against Al-Shabaab. And this time it was Ugandan AMISOM troops came under fire from al-Shabaad fighters, as the AMISOM forces were stopping an illegal al-Shabaab check point. Subsequently in the early morning of 12 May the U.S. conducted defensive fires against the al-Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia who posed an imminent threat to the AMISOM forces.
US Africom via email
AFRICOM statement June 27th 2016:
STUTTGART, Germany – U.S. forces supporting the Federal Government of Somalia, the Somali National Army and troop contributing nations to the African Union Mission in Somalia, provided defensive fires on four occasions in May, to protect U.S., SNA and AMISOM troops from imminent threats posed by the terrorist group al-Shabaab.
The most recent event was on the evening of May 13, 2016, when the U.S. provided defensive fires in Southern Somalia against nine al-Shabaab combatants, killing three. The operation was conducted after it was assessed that the terrorists were planning and preparing to conduct an imminent attack against U.S. forces.
Other similar actions were undertaken on three other occasions in May, including one on May 9 and two on May 12. These defensive fire missions all took place in remote locations in Somalia under al-Shabaab control, which are currently the focus of a Somali and AMISOM-led campaign to regain control of territory for the Somali Federal Government, and to disrupt al-Shabaab’s ability to freely plan and carry out attacks.
U.S. forces are working closely with partner forces to combat al-Shabaab in Somalia. Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and continues to use its safe havens throughout Somalia to plot attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in East Africa, as well as against our international partners in the region.
The U.S. is committed to supporting Somali and regional forces as they combat al-Shabaab and work to bring stability to the region.