US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab in an area around 50 kilometres north of Kismayo, a US Africa Command spokesperson later told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Post-strike analysis had not revealed the number of militants killed, a US spokesperson told the Bureau in an email exchange on July 31st. The event was also confirmed to US reporter Amanda Sperber as part of her 2019 investigation for The Nation.
On the same day, Reuters reported a major attack by al Shabaab on a Somali military base at Baar Sanguni, about 50 km (31 miles) north of Kismayo – which had killed 27 soldiers. Similarities in the reports suggest the US strike may have been a part of a counteraction.
This was the only strike publicly declared by AFRICOM for July 2019. However as Sperber notes, this may not be the actual case: “This lack of transparency has produced an almost total sense of confusion over what the United States is doing with its air attacks in Somalia. Three previously unreported strikes came to light as I investigated the story of an attack relayed by Khadija Hassan Ali, a mother of three from Marka, a city about 60 miles south of Mogadishu…
AFRICOM did not publicly announce any strikes in July, but a document leaked to me by an international human-rights organization indicated an attack on July 25 in Qalimow, a village to the north of Mogadishu and about 95 miles from Ali’s home. I approached AFRICOM and asked if any strikes had occurred between July 22 and 27. Applying RTQ, a spokesperson acknowledged a strike on July 23 but would not specify the location. After weeks of pressing, AFRICOM said the strike happened 30 miles north of Kismayo, Somalia’s southern port city, which is hundreds of miles from both Qalimow and Marka.
This information only makes the situation more puzzling: When asked to avow a strike that a major international organization noted on July 25th, AFRICOM admitted a strike in an entirely different location on July 23, and neither of these strikes match Ali’s recollections. In other words, there may have been three different strikes—one acknowledged by AFRICOM, one noted by the international organization, and one recalled by Ali—all around the same time, none of which were previously made public, and only one of which came to light via RTQ.”
The incident occured in the morning.
Sources (7) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the area 50 kilometers north of the city Kismayo, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.094994, 42.55361. Reuters reported that on the same day Al Shabaab attacked a Somali base near the village of Baar Sanguni/Sunguuni, north of Kismayo. It is likely that this is the location of this incident. The coordinates for the village Baar Sanguni/Sunguuni are: 0.005132, 42.658247. Photos published by Al Shabaab of the camp show it is located in the vicinity of a radio tower. On satellite imagery of January 2016 a structure just outside of Baar Sanguni that looks like a radio tower can be found at these coordinates: 0.004963, 42.654795. However, the imagery is not conclusive and due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the camp and strike.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
Africom email to BIJ, received July 31st, 2018:
“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants approximately 50 kilometers north of Kismayo, Somalia, on July 23. Post-strike analysis has not revealed the number of enemy forces killed.”