Two US airstrikes kill two civilians in Somalia

The aftermath of an Al-Shabaab attack in Mogadishu The aftermath of an Al-Shabaab attack in Mogadishu Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Image

02 April 2020

The US is accused of killing two civilians in airstrikes conducted in February 2020

The new report released by Amnesty International revealed that two recent United States (US) airstrikes in Somalia have killed two civilians and injured three more. The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has denied these allegations and replied that the airstrikes hit only terrorists affiliated with the Al-Shabab extremist group.

Al-Shabab is an al-Qaeda linked group which is fighting to overthrow the internationally recognised government in Somalia. Currently, the group controls the central and southern Somalia but has lost control of the major towns and cities which have been retaken by the Somali National Army. For instance, in 2011, the government forces, backed by African Union troops, pushed the armed group out of the capital, Mogadishu. However, as a result of the inability of Somali forces to consolidate their power in the territories, the militants have immediately regained control over certain areas. As the US arrived in Somalia to dismantle Al-Shabab, more than 10 years ago, the airstrike attacks became frequent under the Trump administration. According to Maj. Karl Weiss, the AFRICOM spokesman, “airstrikes are preventative measures to ensure Al-Shabab does not increase in size and strength”. The most recent airstrikes occurred after an Al-Shabab attack on an airstrip used by the US in Kenya, where three Americans (a soldier and two contractors) were killed. As a consequence of this, since February 2020, the “secret air war” started again in Somalia and AFRICOM has already conducted two airstrikes.

On 31 March 2020, in a press release, US Army General Stephen Townsend pledged to release an updated review of AFRICOM’s airstrikes “to demonstrate our transparency and commitment to protecting civilians from unnecessary harm”.


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Author: Silvia Luminati; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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