Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM052

Incident date

May 9–10, 2016

Location

Tortoroow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.25045, 44.69117 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

Kenyan and Somali forces, and their US advisors, carried out a raid on an al Shabaab checkpoint in Toratorow. The US carried out an airstrike during the operation – though initially denied doing so.

Media reports said helicopters were involved, indicating that both US air and ground forces were participating. However a US spokesperson denied US air assets were deployed, telling the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in an email: “In the early morning hours of May 10, Kenyan Defense Forces and Somali National Army forces conducted a joint raid on an al Shabaab taxation checkpoint in Toratorow, with US forces participating in an advise and assist role. This was not a US-led nor was it a US-unilateral operation – US personnel did not participate in any kinetic operations.”

Yet just weeks later, AFRICOM noted in a public press release that “U.S. forces supporting the Federal Government of Somalia, the Somali National Army and troop contributing nations to the African Union Mission in Somalia, provided defensive fires on four occasions in May, to protect U.S., SNA and AMISOM troops from imminent threats posed by the terrorist group al-Shabaab…. Other similar actions were undertaken on three other occasions in May, including one on May 9 and two on May 12.  These defensive fire missions all took place in remote locations in Somalia under al-Shabaab control, which are currently the focus of a Somali and AMISOM-led campaign to regain control of territory for the Somali Federal Government, and to disrupt al-Shabaab’s ability to freely plan and carry out attacks.”

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces, Somalia Military Forces

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted an Al Shabaab checkpoint in the village Tortoroow. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of this checkpoint. The coordinates for the village Tortoroow are: 2.25045, 44.69117.

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

STUTTGART, Germany – U.S. forces supporting the Federal Government of Somalia, the Somali National Army and troop contributing nations to the African Union Mission in Somalia, provided defensive fires on four occasions in May, to protect U.S., SNA and AMISOM troops from imminent threats posed by the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

The most recent event was on the evening of May 13, 2016, when the U.S. provided defensive fires in Southern Somalia against nine al-Shabaab combatants, killing three. The operation was conducted after it was assessed that the terrorists were planning and preparing to conduct an imminent attack against U.S. forces.

Other similar actions were undertaken on three other occasions in May, including one on May 9 and two on May 12. These defensive fire missions all took place in remote locations in Somalia under al-Shabaab control, which are currently the focus of a Somali and AMISOM-led campaign to regain control of territory for the Somali Federal Government, and to disrupt al-Shabaab’s ability to freely plan and carry out attacks.

U.S. forces are working closely with partner forces to combat al-Shabaab in Somalia. Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and continues to use its safe havens throughout Somalia to plot attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in East Africa, as well as against our international partners in the region.

The U.S. is committed to supporting Somali and regional forces as they combat al-Shabaab and work to bring stability to the region.

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    Kenyan Military Forces
  • Kenyan Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Somalia Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces, Somalia Military Forces

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM048-C

Incident date

April 1, 2016

Location

Buufow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.75095, 44.74449 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

At least four and up to 23 al Shabaab fighters were reported killed in a US airstrike at Buufow, near Janaaale. However more than three years later, one civilian fatality was also alleged.

Two US actions on April 1st and April 2nd were later said to be “self-defence air strikes against al Shabaab fighters who posed imminent threats to US and partner nation forces in Somalia,” Department of Defense spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Michelle Baldanza told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism via email.

She continued: “Our forces are working closely with partners to combat al Shabaab. Al Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al Qaeda; and is dedicated to creating safe havens for terrorist operations and is planning on conducting external attacks in and from Africa. We continue to assess the results of the strikes and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.”

The attacks hit on the same days that ground operations by AMISOM and Somali forces killed several al Shabaab fighters. It was not clear if the US strikes were in support of these ground operations or if they were separate incidents.

According to Voice of America, four al Shabaab militants including the  local commander for Janaale died: “Another suspected U.S. airstrike Friday [April 1st] was reported to have killed a commander known as ‘Qorilow,’ the head of al-Shabab forces in Jannaale town, and three other militants.”

However AMISOM reported up to 23 militant deaths from air and ground operations. According to Xinhua, “AMISOM’s Sector One Commander Brigadier General Sam Okiding confirmed on Saturday that Al-Shabaab commander for the region of Janaale Abdirashir Buqdube, together with 22 others, was killed following air strikes and ground operations against the insurgents’ hideout along the Buufow road. ‘Al-Shabaab cannot hide and we shall continue to work hard to deny them safe haven until the people have been liberated from Al-Shabaab terror,’ Okiding said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.”

In December 2019, US investigative reporter Amanda Sperber reported civilian harm in association with this event: “Nurto Mohamed Nor Issak, 59, doesn’t want to talk about the coconut trees she lost after the U.S. air strike three years ago. She wants to talk about her son who was killed. Who cares about her trees?  Based on Issak’s recollections, the strike was likely one of two carried out April 1 and April 2, 2016, near where Issak lives, in Janale—about 60 miles southwest of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

“The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates as many as 29 people were killed by the air attacks. The Pentagon claims the April 2016 strikes were self-defense against fighters with the militant Islamist group al-Shabab who “posed imminent threats to U.S. and partner nation forces in Somalia.” Issak is adamant that her son was not with the militants and that she told him “not to mix with al-Shabab.”

“The reason I’m speaking with Issak, though, is that—regardless of her son’s alleged association with al-Shabab—her coconut trees are still decapitated and her income depleted, three years hence. Issak says the strike hit her sugarcane and coconut tree plantation, which stretched about 7 acres. Al-Shabab bans smartphones in the villages it controls, but Issak managed to use one to take photos of the damage. “The coconut trees lost their heads,” she says. In the pictures, the tree trunks are stark against the blue sky, masts without sails.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Son of Nurto Mohamed Nor Issak Adult male Unclear if civilian non combatant or combatant killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attackers
    Amisom Military Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–23

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Illustration by Matt Rota depicting destroyed coconut trees reportedly damaged in this event.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the raid took place near the village of Buufow, near Janaale. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the raid. The coordinates for the village Buufow are: 1.75095, 44.74449.

  • The village Buufow near Janaale

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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

"On April 1 and April 2, US forces conducted two self-defense air strikes against Al Shabaab fighters who posed imminent threats to U.S. and partner nation forces in Somalia. Our forces are working closely with partners to combat Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda; and is dedicated to creating safe havens for terrorist operations and is planning on conducting external attacks in and from Africa. We continue to assess the results of the strikes and will provide additional information as and when appropriate."
Via email from Pentagon spokesperson, however original email has not been retreived

Amisom Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Amisom Military Forces
  • Amisom Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Somalia Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attackers
    Amisom Military Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–23

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM046

Incident date

March 8, 2016

Location

Awdheegle, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.977202, 44.833162 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

At least 19 alleged militants were killed in a joint operation between US and Somali forces in the village of Awdhegle. US attack helicopters supported US and Somali Special Forces who attacked an al Shabaab target in southern Somalia, the Pentagon and Somali officials said.

The assault took place overnight. The soldiers flew on US helicopters to a landing zone a few miles outside the target in the town of Awdhegle. US troops accompanied the Somali troops but did not “go all the way to the objective,” according to Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis. The US forces “served in an advisory role to enable the Somali operation,” Davis said. “It was their mission. We were acting in an advisory role.”

ENCA reported that “Special forces operatives in two helicopters targeted the Shebaab-controlled town of Awdhegele, about 50km west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, Somali government officials and a Shebaab spokesman said. ‘We have reports Shebaab militants suffered casualties,” local district commissioner Mohamed Aweys told reporters.'”

The incident occured around midnight.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    19

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the raid targeted a militant base in the village Awdheegle. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the raid. The coordinates for the village Awdheegle are: 1.977202, 44.833162.

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

New York Times, March 9th, 2016:

"Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said that American attack helicopters were used in the operation, and that American military personnel had accompanied Somali troops but that they did not “go all the way to the objective.”
He would not say whether the Americans stayed on the helicopters throughout the operation.
“I can tell you that U.S. military personnel served in an advisory role to enable the Somali operation,” he said, but insisted that “it was their mission. We were acting in an advisory role.”"

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Somalia Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    19

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM027

Incident date

October 5, 2013

Location

Baraawe, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.113632, 44.032311 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

At least one and as many as seven al Shabaab militants were killed in a naval raid carried out by US forces in Barawe, Lower Shabelle, international media reported. There were no reports of civilian harm.

It was not at first clear who was the target of the raid. Reports varied from an unnamed Chechen; al Shabaab’s leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr (aka Ahmed Godane); or a Sudanese national. It later emerged Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir (aka Ikrima) was the target of the attack. He was listed in a Kenyan security services report as a leader of a plot to attack targets in Kenya in 2011 and 2012.

The assault itself was unsuccessful, Associated Press reported. Navy Seals attacked a house where foreign fighters lived at about 2.30am, according to Abu Mohamed, an al Shabaab fighter. But the troops reportedly met stiff resistance and unexpectedly found women and children were in the house. They retreated “after a 15-20 minute firefight”. The Toronto Star reported the US force had tipped al Shabaab off to the impending assault by jamming the internet minutes before attacking. Militant spokesperson Abdulaziz Abu Musab likened the raid to a failed French Special Forces assault in January 2013 which had left at least eight civilians dead..

A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed US forces took part in the raid, while multiple anonymous former and serving US officials told Associated Press that US Navy Seals carried out the assault. It was also not clear how many people were killed. Senior Mogadishu police officer Colonel Abdikadir Mohamed said seven died: five militants and two from the attacking forces.

However, US officials said none of their own troops died. although al Shabaab tweeted two gruesome pictures purportedly of US soldiers they “executed”. A spokesperson for the militants said one militant died but the Daily Telegraph reported two senior al Shabaab fighters were killed and a third was injured. Somali sources told the paper that Abdi Qadar, a Swedish-Somali, and Awab al Uqba (aka Sheikh Abdirahim), a Sudanese, were killed. Al Uqba reportedly trained members of al Shabaab’s intelligence wing, Amniyat, which reportedly would have been central in the planning for the Westgate mall attack.

The attack coincided with a successful US Special Forces raid in Libya. Hours after the aborted Somali raid, soldiers from the US Army Delta Force snatched Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai (aka Anas al Libi) from the streets of Tripoli. Al Ruqai was wanted for his part in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

In April 2014 it emerged that FBI agents had been working closely with JSOC in the years since the September 11 attacks. A Washington Post report said an agent from the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) was with the Seals when they stormed the beach in Barawe. An HRT agent was also reportedly with the Delta Force commandos when they snatched al Rauqai from the streets of Tripoli.

The incident occured at approximately 2:30 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–7

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the raid targeted a two-storey beach house in the coastal town of Baraawe (1.112554, 44.028921). Eyewitnesses said that the raid happened just before dawn prayers and that special forces were seen near the mosque, 200 meters from the sea. According to a map provided by the Guardian, the targeted house is located at these coordinates: 1.113632, 44.032311; and the mosque here: 1.113756, 44.032693.

  • Map of the targeted area in the town Baraawe

    Imagery:
    The Guardian

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

Centrail Maine/AP, October 5th, 2013:

"MOGADISHU, Somalia — U.S. Navy SEALs carried out a pre-dawn raid today on a coastal town in southern Somalia looking for a specific al-Qaida suspect linked to the Nairobi shopping mall attack, but did not get their target, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press.
A former U.S. military official also confirmed the raid by the SEALs, but no other details have been provided. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the raid by name. The Pentagon declined comment."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–7

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Incident Code

SOM016-1

Incident date

May 15, 2012

Location

Near Haradheere, Somalia

Airwars assessment

The European Union (EU) launched attack helicopter and “maritime aircraft” strikes on an alleged pirate base near Haradheere. Stating that there had been no EU “boots on the ground”, reports indicated that helicopters from the EU’s Naval Force (NAVFOR) had destroyed nine speedboats, an arms dump and fuel supplies in a night-time raid.

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, later told Associated Press: “They destroyed our equipment to ashes. It was a key supplies center for us,” Hussein said. “The fuel contributed to the flames and destruction. Nothing was spared.’ The pirates responded angrily to the strike and pirate commander Abdi Yare told AFP ‘If they continue attacking Somali coastal villages, then there will be terrible consequences.’ Although no casualties were recorded fisherman Mohammed Hussein alleged fishing boats were destroyed in the operation. ‘We are very much worried that fishermen will die in such operations,’ he added.

Speaking to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, NAVFOR spokesperson Lt Cmdr Sheriff acknowledged some pirate camps were also used by fishermen but said the target of the strike had been a known pirate base with no fishing activity.

NAVFOR commander Rear Admiral Duncan Potts said of the attack: “The EU Naval Force action against pirate supplies on the shoreline is merely an extension of the disruption actions carried out against pirate ships at sea. We believe this action by the EU Naval Force will further increase the pressure on and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea and attack merchant shipping and dhows.”

Although the EU did not reveal which nations had taken part in the attack, AP reported that the newly-commissioned French amphibious assault ship Dixmude, part of NAVFOR, carried Tigre helicopter gunships. But NAVFOR spokesperson Timo Lange told the Bureau the Dixmude had left the EU flotilla at around the end of April, returning to French naval command. Lt Cmdr Sherriff told the Bureau the attack was instead carried out with helicopters “organic to the ships we have with us” and that small arms fire was used for the attack.

However “an intelligence operative close to EU anti-piracy operations” told Defence Report EU that ground forces did lead the strike, saying the destruction of the pirates’ fast boats could only have been achieved with a ground assault.

EU foreign policy spokesperson Michael Mann said that “This action against piracy is part of a comprehensive EU approach to the crisis in Somalia, where we support a lasting political solution on land.” A Royal Navy source told the Daily Telegraph it was a good time to step up attacks on pirate infrastructure. The source continued: “However, the Somalis will certainly be better prepared next time round and are likely to defend their bases with significant anti-aircraft assets now they know that the ante has been upped. This will inevitably lead to bloodshed and escalation.”

The EU had paved the way for the strikes in a March 23 decision allowing it to target Somalia’s “territorial, coastal and internal waters.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    EU Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (13) [ collapse]

EU Military Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    EU Military Forces
  • EU Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    EU Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

Lib2011-082

Incident date

April 30, 2011

Location

جالو, Jallo Oasis, Al Wahat, Libya

Geolocation

29.046464, 21.516349 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

On April 30th, 2011, Gaddafi forces entered the Jallo Oasis, reportedly killing six civilians and four rebels.

According to Agence France-Presse, 66 cars arrived from the south of the Oasis, killing one civilian at a bakery and five more civilian workers during the attack.

Al Jazeera quoted a rebel spokesman, also describing the six civilian deaths.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Gaddafi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Jallo (جالو) Oasis area, for which the generic coordinates are: 29.046464, 21.516349. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Gaddafi Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Gaddafi Forces
  • Gaddafi Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Gaddafi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM002-C

Incident date

January 8–9, 2007

Location

Hayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.433798, 41.816058 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

According to international and local reports, up to 31 civilians, including at least one child, were killed as the town of Hayi or Xayo was subjected to either US or Ethiopian-waged airstrikes.

Heavy civilian casualties were reported in airstrikes on Hayi near Afmadow, 250km northwest of Ras Kamboni, and other parts of southern Somalia, in confusing reports which may conflate activity by US and other forces.

An elder told Reuters that 22 to 27 people had been killed, while a Somali politician told CBS News that 31 civilians “including a newlywed couple” had been killed by two helicopters in Hayi, 30 miles from Afmadow. “The U.S. military is ready to carry out more strikes, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. But whether it does will depend on getting good intelligence on the whereabouts of any al Qaeda operatives left alive. A Somali lawmaker said 31 civilians, including a newlywed couple, died in Tuesday’s assault by two helicopters near Afmadow, a town in a forested area close to the Kenyan border. The report could not be independently verified.  A Somali Defense Ministry official described the helicopters as American, but witnesses told The Associated Press they could not make out identification markings on the craft. Washington officials had no comment on the helicopter strike.”

Mohamed Mahmud Burale told AP that at least four civilians were killed on Monday evening [January 8th] in Hayi, including his four-year-old son.

AP China Daily cited a US military official who said that “Tuesday’s strike was probably carried out by Ethiopia since the aircraft were identified as Russian-made Hind helicopter gunships like those used by the Ethiopian military.”

Ethiopia denied any responsibility, according to China Daily. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia and the US have been cooperating on intelligence, and that most of the information has come from the Americans. He also said the Ethiopians did not provide any intelligence that led to Monday’s airstrike.”

However, AP China Daily also referred to Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, who said at least three US airstrikes had been launched since Monday  January 8th. Reports described al Qaeda operatives as the targets of the US strikes.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Son of Mohamed Mahmud Burale 4 years old male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 31
  • (1 child1 woman1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Xayo (or Hayo), for which the coordinates are: -0.433798, 41.816058. Due to limited information and satellite imagery availble to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Ethiopian Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Ethiopian Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 31
  • (1 child1 woman1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM001-C

Incident date

January 7, 2007

Location

Ras Kamboni (possibly vicinity of Lag Badana Bushbush National Park), Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-1.649594, 41.563289 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Up to eight civilians were reportedly killed as the US carried out an airstrike against al Qaeda leaders in Ras Kamboni, Lower Juba, international and local sources reported.

Shortly after Ethiopian forces had invaded Somalia in late December 2006, the US carried out its first known combat operation within Somalia since the September 11 2001 attacks. Specifically, a JSOC AC-130 gunship attacked a suspected al Qaeda convoy under cover of darkness, after tracking it with a Predator drone. According to the Washington Post, the strike was launched from a US military base in Djibouti and based on both CIA intelligence and on information provided by Ethiopian and Kenyan forces operating in the border area.

Somali government spokesperson Abdul Rashid Hidig told the New York Times that two civilians were killed, although an Islamist spokesperson said “many” nomadic tribesmen died, including many children. US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannenberger denied any civilian casualties in an interview with the BBC. Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told CBS News the strike was based on intelligence “that led us to believe we had principal al Qaeda leaders in an area where we could identify them and take action against them.” But another US official told the Washington Post: “Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed.”

Up to a dozen militants were among those reportedly killed. US officials, speaking anonymously, named various al Qaeda members as potential targets including Aden Hashi Eyro or AyroFazul Abdullah Mohammed, and Sudanese explosives expert Abu Talha al Sudani (aka Tariq Abdullah). Somali officials instead said that 50 people died in the attacks – “mostly” Al Qaeda fighters.

A team of Ethiopian military personnel with one US Special Forces operative landed at the scene within hours and confirmed eight dead and three injured, “all of whom were described as being armed”, the New York Times reported the following month.  Ayro’s bloodied passport was found, leading them to believe he had been wounded or killed, the report added – although Ayro was later targeted in another action  (SOM008.) Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was also reportedly the target of SOM002 and SOM005.

A later report in the Daily Mail claimed four British citizens were killed in the attack. Five days after the incident, a number of individuals surrendered to Kenyan authorities, including a number of Swedish citizens; Fazul’s wife Mariam Ali Mohammed; and eight children. They were deported to Mogadishu and then seized by the Ethiopian intelligence service, who transported them to Addis Ababa where they were held for ten weeks. Finally, the Los Angeles Times reported that the raid killed between eight to 10 alleged al Qaeda affiliates.

According to several reports and Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman, the targets were those believed to be responsible for the 1998 US embassy bombings, which killed 225 people. Al Sudani was also reportedly “al Qaeda’s leader in East Africa” and was involved in the 2002 Paradise Hotel bombing in Kenya that killed 13 people.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–45
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy of which some vehicles were stuck in the mud, near the port city of Ras Kamboni. The convoy was supposedly seeking deeper cover in the bush near the Kenyan border. One source noted that the strike took place on a remote island off of Ras Kamboni. Given the targets were in land vehicles, it seems unlikely they would have been on an island. However, the shape of the peninsula to the South of Ras Kamboni does look similar to an island, and may have been described as such. The information stating the vehicles got stuck in the mud whilst seeking shelter in bush areas could suggest the forest area to the West / South West of Ras Kamboni. This is also close to the Kenyan border, which is corroborated by information within the source documentation. The coordinates for this area are: -1.649594, 41.563289.

  • The forest area just south of the port town Ras Kamboni, near the Kenyan border (marked in yellow)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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

"WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2007 – A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship attack in Somalia on Jan. 7 targeted senior terrorist leaders, a senior Pentagon official confirmed today.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters the attack targeted "what we believe to be principal al Qaeda leadership" operating in the southern part of Somalia."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–45
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (17) [ collapse]