U.S. refutes involvement in Somali army drone strike resulting in harm to civilians
On Saturday September 9, 2023, a tragic incident occurred in central Somalia, resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Reportedly, militants sought refuge in a residential compound, which unfortunately contained a family. Local elders confirmed that the drone strike killed seven civilians, including five children and a grandmother.
The Somali Ministry of Information has verified that a joint operation in the Galgadud region successfully targeted five al-Shabab members, including three leaders. Notable figures among the deceased include Olol Ali Guled, who headed al-Shabaab’s insurgent militia in Galmudug, as well as Shuuke Ali Dheeg, Isse Barre, and two other prominent individuals wanted for their involvement with al-Shabab.
Although the government did not disclose the identity of the international partner involved in the operation, the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) released a statement stating that Somali national forces executed a counter-terrorism mission near El-Lahelay, resulting in the elimination of three al-Shabab leaders.
To address the unfortunate reality, AFRICOM acknowledged the loss of civilian lives resulting from the operation; however, they did not provide a specific number. They emphasized that the U.S. forces were not physically present at the site and did not conduct any airstrikes during or in support of the operation.
The Deputy Information Minister of Somalia, Abdirahman Yusuf, denied responsibility for the civilian casualties during an interview with BBC Somali. He asserted that al-Shabab had placed explosive devices within a civilian residence, causing the tragic deaths of innocent individuals.
It is important to note that al-Shabab has been engaged in a conflict since 2006 with the aim of overthrowing the central government of Somalia and enforcing its own rule, which adheres to a strict interpretation of Islam.