In apparent retaliatory strikes against al Al Shabaab for a mass casualty bombing in Mogadishu a day earlier, the United States said that it had conducted three strikes against al Shbaab commanders, killing four people in total.
This entry relates to one strike in the vicinity of Caliyoow Barrow in Lower Shabelle. it later emerged that the target was al Shabaab’s chief bomb maker, Mohamed Siidow.
According to an AFRICOM press release issued on the same day as the attack, “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted three (3) airstrikes in two (2) locations targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow, Somalia, respectively, Dec. 29.”
“Initial assessment concluded two airstrikes killed two (2) terrorists and destroyed two (2) vehicles in Qunyo Barrow; and one airstrike killed two (2) terrorists in Caliyoow Barrow. We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of these airstrikes. We comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict during the course of our operations to ensure the safety of civilians.”
It added that “These precision airstrikes targeted al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with al-Qaeda.”
In what may be a separate or related incident, according to one local source, Somalia Terror Updates, two strikes took place “in the vicinity of Moqokori in Hiiraan region.” Since this is not in Lower Shabelle this would appear to be a different event.
The alleged al Shabaab suicide bombing on December 28th 2019 caused the largest single loss of civilian life of the year – with at least 81 people slain. However there was later some doubt over whether al Shabaab was responsible, with VOA reporter Harun Maruf tweeting on December 30th that “Somalia’s intelligence agency says it has submitted a preliminary report indicating that a foreign country ‘planned’ Saturday’s bombing in Mogadishu. NISA didn’t publicly release the evidence pointing towards the involvement of a foreign country.”
In mid January 2020, Somali media reported that the target of the attack had been a senior al Shabaab bomb maker. The Horn Observer for example reported that “Mohamed Siidow another militant bomb expert who was killed in a strike at Caliyow Barrow village.” Local sources also placed this event slightly earlier, at December 28th.
The incident was first reported on December 29, 2019 at 3:00 pm by Harun Maruf of VOA.
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Reports of the incident mention the village of Caliyoow Barrow, allegedly in the vicinity of Kunyoo Barrow village, within the district of Lower Shabelle. The generic coordinates for the district are: 1.768333, 44.390000. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.