On the 26th of May, 2023, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of an ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) forward operating base in Bulo Marer, 75 miles southwest of Mogadishu, Somalia. To date, there have been no reports of civilian harm with regard to the airstrike, while a local source reported that “many” Al-Shabaab members were killed.
United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) released a statement on the strike on the 27th May 2023, claiming that the strike had “destroyed weapons and equipment unlawfully taken by Shabaab fighters” and added that “the command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed”. AFRICOM also stated that the strike had been carried out “in support of the Federal Government of Somalia”.
Arab News reported, on the 28th of May, that local residents and a Somali commander had spoken to AFP, claiming that “Al-Shabaab militants drove a car laden with explosives into the (ATMIS) base, prompting a gunfight”.
On the 28th of May, a reporter for Garowe Online added further details and context, stating that the Al-Shabaab fighters had “initiated dawn attacks mainly targeting the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF)” who were serving as part of a peace-keeping mission.
A report from ‘Antiwar.com’ stated that the assault had started with suicide car bombings, adding that Al-Shabaab had “claimed that it had killed 137 soldiers in the attack”. However, ‘Antiwar.com’ noted that this claim was unconfirmed.
A report written by Somalia News (@SomaliaNews252), dated the 27th of May, stated that U.S. airstrikes had “destroyed vehicles” taken by Al-Shabaab as they retreated from Bulo Marer. On the 30th of May, ATMIS Somalia posted an online statement via X/Twitter that ATMIS and SNA (Somalia National Armed Forces) troops had “successfully pursued the fleeing Al-Shabaab terrorists” and claimed that “many” terrorists had been killed.
Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that the President of Uganda, Katuga Museveni, had made comments on the Al-Shabaab attack: “@KatugaMuseveni says about 800 al-Shabaab fighters were involved in the attack; admitted that Al-Shabaab overran the base”.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (12) [ collapse]
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
In support of the Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia operations against al Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike against militants in the vicinity of the ATMIS forward operating base, FOB Bulo Marer on May 26.
The strike destroyed weapons and equipment unlawfully taken by al Shabaab fighters.
The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed.
U.S. Africa Command takes great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote a more secure and stable Africa.