Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM099-C

Incident date

November 10–11, 2017

Location

2km north of Baasra, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.329050, 45.265357 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab at approximately 8pm local Somalia time killing “several” fighters, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said. It was also alleged by local officials that three civilians had died.

The strike hit the Lower Shabelle region. A Somali military official told Voice of America the strike, which they said was carried out by a drone, hit fighters in the region’s Basra village, located 30 kilometres north of Mogadishu.

A local Somali official said that three civilians had been killed in the strike, though the spokesperson for the security ministry dismissed the allegation as al Shabaab propaganda, Voice of America reported. An AFRICOM spokesperson later told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that this allegation had been assessed by them to be non credible.

AFRICOM officials said at least 13 fighters were killed in this attack. This and the four additional strikes between November 9th and November 12th killed “more than 40 terrorists,” a Pentagon spokesperson told reporters on November 13th. He did not say how many people were killed in which of the five strikes, “for operational reasons,” an AFRICOM spokesperson told the Bureau on November 15th 2017.

In July 2019, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a FOIA response from AFRICOM which offered significant detail on the civilian casualty assessment (see below). Deeming the attack ‘NOT CREDIBLE’, the assessment claimed that “The targeted group was maneuvring, and openly displaying weapons, in an area approximately 2.5km north of the closest town, Basra.”

Amnesty International has also examined this case, noting the following in March 2019: “On 10 November 2017, the US conducted at least three air strikes in and around Baladul-Rahma and Geeshaan. In an email to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, AFRICOM confirmed it conducted a strike in the Lower Shabelle region. It did not provide details of casualties “for operational reasons”, however news reports at the time indicate three civilians were amongst those killed. According to records obtained
by Amnesty International, a total of 10 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, three Griffin missiles, and two GBU-69/Bs were fired by the US Air Force in Somalia between 10-17 November 2017.”

A senior Amnesty researcher later told Airwars that “The info on the Nov 10/11 strikes did come from interviews with local villagers, and it should line up both with the Bureau’s data and a lot of other news reporting – a fairly major operation happened in the general ‘Basra’ area at that time, but we weren’t able to name exactly which civilians died from air strikes and which died from ground ops.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM confirmed it had struck what it says were al Shabaab fighters, north of Baasra, on this date.

The incident occured at approximately 8:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–13

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • CGTN Africa Live report on US strikes in Somalia, November 13th 2017

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place 2 kilometers north of the village Baasra. The coordinates for this area are: 2.329050, 45.265357. Amnesty reported that the US ‘conducted at least three airstrikes in and around Baladul Rahma and Geeshaan’ on this date. These two villages are within very near vicinity of Baasra: the coordinates for Baladul Rahma are: 2.296128, 45.264368; the coordinates for Geeshaan are: 2.297905, 45.273261.

  • The villages Baasra, Baladul Rahma and Geeshaan, and the area 2 km north of Baasra

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    2.5km north of Basra
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Jul 1, 2019
  • [FOIA assessment obtained by US investigative reporter Nick Turse] On 25 JUN 18, New America reporter, David Sterman, contacted USAFRICQM PAO to inquire about a CIVCAS allegation concerning a strike IVO Basra, Somalia on 10NQV17. The allegation was featured in a single Voice of America (VOA) news report on 15NOV17. Voice of America indicated that "...A local official told VOA that three civilians were among at least 13 people killed on Saturday when drone-fired missiles targeted militants in the Basra village..." but that "...a Security Ministry spokesman denied the reported civilians death, dismissing it as al-Shabaab propaganda." NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: The targeted group was maneuvering, and openly displaying weapons, in an open area approximately 2.5 km north of the closest town, Basra, Somalia. The targeted group was observed massing approximately 2 km from the friendly force location. The strike occurred in the context of an assisted, partner force operation in the area where partner forces came under fire from hostile forces over a period of six hours. USAFRICOM is only aware of the allegations arising in one media report/allegation, and cite only one, unnamed villager. The VOA article itself indicates the Somali government Security Ministry separately assessed no civilians were killed.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Via email:

"U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia against al-Shabaab on Friday, Nov. 10 at approximately 8 p.m. local Somalia time, killing several militants. The operation occurred in the Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia, about 20 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–13

Sources (10) [ collapse]