Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM280

Incident date

February 22, 2020

Location

سااكوو, Saakow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

1.637795, 42.452829 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Two Al Shabaab members were killed and another wounded in two or more US airstrikes near Saakow, according to AFRICOM. The US later said the pair, a husband and wife, were both active terrorists within al Shabaab.

The initial press release said: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab compound in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia, Feb. 22. Initial assessments conclude two terrorists were killed, one terrorist was wounded, and an al-Shabaab compound was reduced as a result of this precision airstrike. We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.”

Somali state media SONNA said that the strike took place within the city of Saakow. An official statement referenced women fighting for Al Shabaab, stating that “This strike is an important one because it demonstrates that women can also be al-Shabaab. Women that serve in the Amniyat network or other facilitating roles are al-Shabaab.Women are being coerced to join through fear or by force to support al-Shabaab’s false ideology.”

AFRICOM also later reported, on February 25th, that it had targeted and killed a woman and her husband: “Post-strike assessments confirm the two terrorists killed in the Feb. 22 precision airstrikes were an individual associated with the attack on Manda Bay and his wife, who was also a known al-Shabaab member. The two terrorists were identified as a senior al-Shabaab leader, who was in charge of planning and directing terrorist operations on the Kenya border region, including the recent attack on Manda Bay, and his wife, who also was a witting and active member of al-Shabaab responsible for facilitating a wide range of terrorist activities.”

VOA and the BBC later reported that the airstrike killed Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, aka Bashir Qoorgaab, a senior Al Shabaab commander. VOA noted that “Qoorgaab was one of the most battle-hardened al-Shabab commanders of the group’s Jabhat (military). Most recently he commanded three al-Shabab Jabhat units, two of which are operating in Kenya, including the notorious Jaysh Ayman unit in the area of Manda Bay.”

The BBC noted that the US had previously offered a $5 million reward for Qoorgaab’s death or capture.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (25) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • AFRICOM press release
  • Ministry of Information statement

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a strike on a compound in the vicinity of Saakow (سااكوو) town, for which due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.  The coordinates for Saakow are: 1.637795, 42.452829

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab compound in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia, Feb. 22.
“Al-Shabaab kills regularly and indiscriminately,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, U.S. Africa Command deputy director of operations. “This al-Qaida affiliate exploits innocent Somalis, displaces families, and imposes illegal taxes through force and violence. They want to export their vision of destruction more widely. It is our collective international efforts and persistent pressure that prevents this from occurring.”
Initial assessments conclude two terrorists were killed, one terrorist was wounded, and an al-Shabaab compound was reduced as a result of this precision airstrike.
We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.
Somalia remains key to the security environment of East Africa, and its long-term stability is important to advancing U.S. interests in the region. We will continue to work together on our support of the Federal Government of Somalia in its effort to bring improved governance, development and stability to the Somali people.

Post-strike assessments confirm the two terrorists killed in the Feb. 22 precision airstrikes were an individual associated with the attack on Manda Bay and his wife, who was also a known al-Shabaab member.

The two terrorists were identified as a senior al-Shabaab leader, who was in charge of planning and directing terrorist operations on the Kenya border region, including the recent attack on Manda Bay, and his wife, who also was a witting and active member of al-Shabaab responsible for facilitating a wide range of terrorist activities.

“Since January 5, U.S. Africa Command and our partners have pursued those responsible for the attack on U.S. and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “This strike demonstrates that we will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible for Manda Bay and those wishing to do harm to Americans and our African partners.”

Immediately following the attack in Kenya, the command took swift measures to increase its force protection postures and harden its operating location, including Manda Bay, while simultaneously pursuing the attackers and their network.

“Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, is an evil and remorseless enemy of peace, stability, and freedom in East Africa and threatens the very way of life of people there, as well as Americans and U.S. interest in the region and abroad,” said Townsend.

Al-Shabaab is the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network in the world. In November 2019, after a series of complex attacks targeting Somali bases hosting U.S. forces, al-Shabaab’s leadership publicly identified Americans and U.S. interests worldwide as priority targets. The message mirrored Usama bin Laden’s declaration of war on the U.S. in 1996.

Alongside our partners, U.S. Africa Command continues to take action to prevent this malicious terrorist group from planning and conducting external attacks. Due to our collective security and U.S. whole-of-government efforts, the command has observed tangible progress in Somalia over the past decade. While progress is not irreversible, AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA) have made gains in al-Shabaab strongholds in southern Somalia, holding territory and establishing outposts. U.S. trained SNA forces, along with combined counterterrorism efforts, continue to support observed momentum and promote greater opportunity.

“U.S. Africa Command will continue to support our African and European partners in the fight against al-Shabaab,” said Townsend. “It is important to impact their ability to threaten peace and security in East Africa and prevent their threats against the U.S. from being a reality.”

U.S. Africa Command conducted the precision airstrike in coordination with the government of Somalia. The airstrike occurred in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia, which is located approximately 320 kilometers west of Mogadishu.

Somalia remains key to the security environment in East Africa, and its long-term stability is important to advancing comprehensive U.S. interests in the region.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (25) [ collapse]