Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM167

Incident date

December 15, 2018

Location

غندرشي, Mountainous area near Gandarshe, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.839519, 44.962808 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

AFRICOM publicly reported the first of four strikes on the same area on the same day – asserting that it had killed eight al Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe.

The tweet was issued shortly after noon GMT, indicating that the attack was earlier that morning.

Two days later AFRICOM revealed that it had carried out a total of four strikes that day on Gandarshe which it claimed between them had killed 34 al Shabaab fighters. Another two strikes took place on December 16th, it said – killing another 28 militants.

“All six airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” a press release on the strikes stated.

AFRICOM assessed that no civilians were harmed during the strikes.

Voice of America revealed additional information about the attacks: “U.S. military airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend destroyed a secret al-Shabab base close to the capital, Mogadishu, and killed at least 62 militants, including 10 middle-ranking commanders, according to Somali officials and intelligence sources. ‘The repeated strikes … targeted the al-Shabab base on a mountain area near Gendershe, where al-Shabab militants have been training new recruits and used to launch attacks against government soldiers and the African Union peacekeepers,’ said Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region.

“A Somali intelligence official said the militants established the secret base about 53 kilometers south of Mogadishu because of its proximity to the capital and the port town of Marka. U.S. and Somali government forces have targeted other Shabab bases in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region for years, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘So, the militants decided to set up a new base … close to the Indian Ocean and Mogadishu to avoid the intelligence radar,’ the official told VOA’s Somali Service. Gendershe is a village on the coastal road linking the Somali capital to Marka.”

Associated press offered a different perspective, indicating preventive measures against an imminent attack: “They were conducted with America’s ‘Somali partners to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as safe havens to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks,’ Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said, noting that no civilians had been killed or injured. ‘The strike has neutralized an imminent attack’ on a military base in the Lower Shabelle region, a Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press, adding that a camp and vehicles were hit.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  confirmed it had separately targeted with three strikes on this date, what it says was an “al Shabaab encampment”, in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in a mountainous area in the vicinity of the village of Gandarshe (غندرشي), for which the coordinates are: 1.8349369, 44.9668452. The coordinates for the mountainous area just north of Gandarshe are: 1.839519, 44.962808. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Al-Shabaab Forces degraded by U.S., Federal Government of Somalia

To support the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a total of four (4) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 15, 2018. U.S. forces also conducted two (2) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 16, 2018.

To support the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a total of four (4) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 15, 2018.

U.S. forces also conducted two (2) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 16, 2018.
We currently assess the airstrikes on December 15 killed thirty-four (34) militants.
We currently assess the airstrikes on December 16 killed twenty-eight (28) militants.

At this time we assess these airstrikes did not injure or kill any civilians.

All six (6) airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al-Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks.
Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia. In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States, and U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8

Sources (7) [ collapse]