The victims were in fact civilians travelling in a small minibus – with photos already posted online showing bodies burned beyond recognition and the minibus vehicle covered in blood. The youngest killed was reportedly only 13 years old.
A US air strike in the south of Somalia has reportedly killed numerous civilians, instead of the Al-Shabab fighters they first claimed to have killed.
Carrying out the attack near the farming town of Janaale, almost 100km south of the capital Mogadishu, on Monday the US had stated that five terrorists were killed in a successful air strike.
The victims, however, were in fact civilians travelling in a small minibus – with photos already posted online showing bodies burned beyond recognition and the minibus vehicle covered in blood. The youngest killed was reportedly only 13 years old.
According to Abdullahi Abdirahman Ali, who lost his 70 year old father in the air strike, the US has lied in its statements about Al-Shabab militants:
The Americans are lying. They killed my elderly father. He is 70 years old and can barely move. He can’t walk without the help of a walking stick. He is not al-Shabab. They killed these civilians because they know no one will take action against them.”
The US has a military base in Mogadishu, as part of the ongoing campaign against the Al-Qaeda linked group Al-Shabab. The Somali government was able to push Al-Shabab out of the capital of Mogadishu in 2011, and has had relative control since.
Despite governmental control, however, Al-Shabab continues to operate in the country. In response, the US has carried out at least 25 air strikes in Somalia alone this year – which in cases like this, often result in civilians being wrongfully killed instead.
Mahad Dhoore, a Member of Parliament in Somalia’s government, has since confirmed that those killed were civilians and not Al-Shabab terrorists. Also noting the danger of American air strikes killing civilians, Dhoore stated:
They killed civilians. They are not telling the truth when they say they killed terrorists…On one hand they are been punished by al-Shabab. On the other American drone strikes are killing them. Al-Shabab will use these attacks for recruitment and for propaganda…America is playing into the hands of al-Qaeda by killing civilians.”
Cases like this are an all-too-familiar scene in countries where the US continues to operate almost without impunity when it comes to its ‘war on terror’. Civilians bear the brunt of the attacks, and are most heavily affected from both the side of US military operations as well as from the opposing groups fighting against American influence.
As Somalia continues to remain conflicted between Al-Shabab and American interests, the families of those like Ali who lost his father remain in mourning for those innocents lost in a war of extremes.