Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM236-C

Incident date

June 25, 2019

Location

حرمك, Kunya Barrow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.7928186, 43.3841839 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A named man, Abow Ali Wardi (or Wardiyow), was widely reported killed in a US targeted strike near Kunyo Barrow. While there were some local claims that the victim was a non combatant, AFRICOM later insisted the target was “an al-Shabaab facilitator” and that “It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that civilian casualties did not occur as a result of U.S. military action.”

Reporting the action 48 hours after the strike, AFRICOM said it had carried out an airstrike targeting al Shabaab in Kunyo Barrow which had killed one “militant”. AFRICOM also asserted that “Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. Our processes and procedures allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis” – despite presumably being aware of local reports.

Somalimemo, the pro al Shabaab site, provided what it said was a detailed account: “More details are coming in about US drone strikes in the Lower Shabelle region around 05:00 (5pm). The airstrikes near the Kuunyo-Barrow area targeted Abow Ali Wardi, a businessman in livestock and farming, who was driving his own car. About three missiles were fired as he left Kuunyo Barrow on his way to his home in Arabow. He had previously taken patients for treatment in the free hospital in Kunyo. Abow, who was killed by an American strike around 18km from Kunyo, was cut into three pieces according to some journalists who visited the hospital’s mortuary today. His head and hands were severed, while the rest of his body was a net.

“Fifty people from the Arabow area, including the victim’s father and other people who attended the funeral, were furious and fiercely accusing the United States of America. “Our son was not al-Shabaab, he was a businessman, he was operating his car, he never went to the United States,” said one of Abow’s uncles. Abow was a young man in his mid-thirties who left behind 11 children and three wives, two of whom are pregnant. Arabow residents said they were also deeply saddened by the death of Abow as he was an active trader they had known from his youth.”

Aaqbaar Online – which described the victim as “in his early 40’s leaving 11 children and three wives behind”, later reported that the victim’s family were calling on the US government “to carry out impartial and urgent investigations over Wardiyow’s death.”

However in April 2020, AFRICOM explicitly denied any civilians had been harmed in the attack: “June 26, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from two social media accounts claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on June 25, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated. Contrary to allegations that the individual killed was a civilian, U.S. intelligence confirmed the identity of the individual as an al-Shabaab facilitator. The vehicle and occupant were observed in support of known al-Shabaab locations and personnel. Strike video indicates that the effects of the airstrike were limited to the vehicle as the strike occurred in an isolated area. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that civilian casualties did not occur as a result of U.S. military action.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Abow Ali Wardi (or Wardarow) Adult male Mid 30s to early 40s, described locally as a businessman and farmer

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (17) [ collapse]

  • 'US drone strike on civilians in Lower Shabelle' ('Diyaaradaha Mareykanka oo qof shacab ah ku dilay shabeellaha Hoose') SomaliMemo TV video, posted June 26th 2019, on the death of Abow Ali Wardi in a confirmed US drone strike.
  • The vehicle of Abow Ali Wardi, destroyed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The vehicle of Abow Ali Wardi, destroyed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The vehicle of Abow Ali Wardi, destroyed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The vehicle of Abow Ali Wardi, destroyed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The vehicle of Abow Ali Wardi, destroyed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The body of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The body of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The funeral of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • The funeral of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Relatives and friends at the funeral of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Relatives and friends at the funeral of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Relatives and friends at the funeral of Abow Ali Wardi, killed in a lethal US drone strike on June 25th 2019 (via SomaliMemo)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Kunya Barrow (حرمك), for which the coordinates are: 0.7928186, 43.3841839. 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
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • June 26, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from two social media accounts claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on June 25, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated. Contrary to allegations that the individual killed was a civilian, U.S. intelligence confirmed the identity of the individual as an al-Shabaab facilitator. The vehicle and occupant were observed in support of known al-Shabaab locations and personnel. Strike video indicates that the effects of the airstrike were limited to the vehicle as the strike occurred in an isolated area. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that civilian casualties did not occur as a result of U.S. military action.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted one airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, June 25, 2019 (...)

At this time, we assess the airstrike killed one (1) militant.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (7) [ collapse]