Civilians killed in US airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab

By Andrew Wasike and Magdalene Mukami

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – The U.S. is killing Somali civilians in airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants, Amnesty International said in a report on Wednesday noting it has evidence to prove it.

The regional Amnesty International office in Nairobi, Kenya called the civilian deaths war crimes, adding that forensic investigation has yielded credible evidence that 14 civilians were killed in just five out of the more than 100 airstrikes that the U.S. has carried out in Somalia.

The report “the Hidden U.S. War in Somalia" noted that the civilians were killed by "reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle, a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu".

"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes,” it added.

The international rights group said that it approached the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) many times with evidence but they denied killing any civilians in their Somali operations.

Brian Castner, the group's senior crisis advisor on arms and military operations, noted that the number of civilians killed by the U.S. airstrikes probably are higher than detailed in the report.

“The civilian death toll we’ve uncovered in just a handful of strikes suggests the shroud of secrecy surrounding the U.S. role in Somalia’s war is actually a smokescreen for impunity.”

“Our findings directly contradict the U.S. military’s mantra of zero civilian casualties in Somalia,” he added.

Blaming U.S. President Donald Trump for proliferating the strikes after weakening safeguards, the report said: "The number of U.S. strikes in Somalia surged after 30 March 2017, when President Trump signed an Executive Order declaring southern Somalia an 'area of active hostilities'."

“In one case, a U.S. military airstrike in farmland near the village of Darusalaam killed three local farmers in the early morning hours of 12 November 2017. They were resting in the open after working well into the night digging irrigation canals. At around 3 a.m. an airstrike targeted them without warning.”

Responding to the Amnesty report in a statement, AFRICOM denied the allegations saying: "We believe the report does not accurately reflect AFRICOM’s record in mitigating civilian casualties. In fact, AFRICOM goes to extraordinary lengths to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties, exercising restraint as a matter of policy.”

AFRICOM added: "Our assessments found that no AFRICOM airstrike resulted in any civilian casualty or injury. Our assessments are based on post-strike analysis using intelligence methods not available to non-military organizations.”

AFRICOM said that since June 2017 it had carried out 110 airstrikes in Somalia killing more than 800 terrorists, adding that al-Shabaab militants have been using untruthful claims of civilian casualties to coerce communities to make untrue claims to stop the airstrikes.

Somali army kills 8 al-Shabaab militants

            By Mohammed Dhaysane </p>  <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - Somali special forces killed eight al-Shabaab militants overnight in the country’s Lower Shabelle region, state media said Tuesday.</p>  <p> “Somali security forces conducted an overnight operation in Daru Salam village in Lower Shabelle and killed eight members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group,” the Somali National News Agency reported.</p>  <p>Adow Mohamed, a Somali National Army captain in Lower Shabelle, confirmed the operation to Anadolu Agency by phone.</p>  <p>“Our special forces alongside our international partners conducted an operation against al-Shabaab in Daru Salam in the Lower Shabelle region after we received intelligence and killed eight al-Shabaab fighters,” Mohamed said. </p>  <p>Meanwhile, al-Shabaab claimed it had killed one U.S. serviceman and wounded two others.</p>  <p>U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which is targeting al-Shabaab in Somalia, have not commented on the incident so far.

Car bomb blast kills 5 in Somali capital

                               By Mohammed Dhaysane</p>  <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - At least five people were killed and more than nine wounded when a car bomb went off near Somalia’s presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu, officials said Thursday.</p>  <p>“What we know so for about the attack is that a car bomb blast targeted the busy Dalsan restaurant, killing five people, including soldiers and civilians,” Adan Ahmed, a police officer, told Anadolu Agency over the phone. </p>  <p>More than nine other people, mostly civilians, were wounded and were rushed to hospitals for treatment, he added.</p>  <p>Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via the Internet and said it had targeted government officials.</p>  <p>This attack comes one week after the group claimed responsibility for a suicide blast attack and 24-hour gun battle with security forces in Mogadishu which killed more than 15 people and wounded over 60 others.</p>  <p>On Oct. 14, 2017, at least 300 people were killed in a truck bomb blast attack in Mogadishu blamed on al-Shabaab.

US airstrike in Somalia kills 26 al-Shabaab fighters

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. said Friday it had killed 26 al-Shabaab fighters in an airstrike conducted in Somalia, adding to a mounting death toll since the U.S. began ramping up airstrikes in the region. </p>  <p>The airstrike was the 24th conducted by U.S. forces this year. </p>  <p>U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement that the strike was conducted Thursday in Somalia's central Hiran region, the same area it conducted two other strikes earlier in the week, killing a total of 45 fighters.</p>  <p>“This action is demonstrative of the Federal Government of Somalia’s commitment to dismantling al-Shabaab’s network with U.S. assistance,” said AFRICOM's deputy director of intelligence Gen. Gregory Hadfield. </p>  <p>“Precision airstrikes such as this one maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its planning cycle and degrade its ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks against the Somali people.”</p>  <p>The announcement comes a day after three deadly car bombings took the lives of at least 20 people in the capital Mogadishu in attacks the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab took responsibility for.</p>  <p>Although the U.S. has been stepping up airstrikes in Somalia to push al-Shabaab forces out of major urban areas, the group still carries out deadly attacks.</p>  <p>In 2018, the U.S. conducted 33 air and drone strikes in Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

US airstrike kills 20 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - American forces conducted its second airstrike in a week in the Hiran province of Somalia, killing 20 al-Shabaab militants, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Tuesday.</p>  <p>The strike targeted a location Monday which AFRICOM said was an al-Shabaab training camp and had been used to facilitate attacks in Beledweyne. </p>  <p>U.S. forces have been conducting strikes in Somalia as part of a strategy to help the Somali National Army reduce the strength of al-Shabaab in the region.</p>  <p>AFRICOM said no civilians were injured in the tactical bombing.</p>  <p>&quot;We are committed to supporting our Somali partners in our shared goal of diminishing al-Shabaab's networks and disrupting its operations,&quot; AFRICOM's deputy director of intelligence Gen. Gregory Hadfield said in a statement. &quot;This precision airstrike successfully targeted an encampment from which al-Shabaab could stage, coordinate, and execute attacks on Beledweyne.&quot;</p>  <p>The strike comes one day after another airstrike killed 35 militants 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Beledweyne.</p>  <p>Last month, a U.S. airstrike killed at least 24 fighters in the Shebeeley village of the central Hiran region. A few days later another strike in the Lower Shabelle region killed 13 fighters, according to AFRICOM.</p>  <p>&quot;U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM and Somali National Army forces,&quot; the statement added.</p>  <p>*Kasim Ileri contributed to this report

Unknown gunmen kill 9 civilians in Somalia

            <p>By Mohammed Dhaysane</p>  <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - Nine people were shot dead Monday by unknown gunmen in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, officials said.</p>  <p>The incident occurred in Hawa Abdi village, less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the Somali capital Mogadishu.</p>  <p>Lower Shabelle Governor Mohamed Ibrahim Barre told reporters the victims were killed by members of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab group.</p>  <p>”Al-Shabaab fighters attacked street cleaners in Hawa Abdi, killing nine people, including six women. This is an evil attack by al-Shabaab, and really, this a massacre,” Barre said.</p>  <p>The victims, who were all civilians, came under attack as a sanitation campaign was underway in the village organized by the administration, he added.</p>  <p>Barre called on the Somali people to unite in the fight against al-Shabaab.</p>  <p>Although Somali officials blamed al-Shabaab for the attack, no group has yet claimed responsibility.</p>  <p>The incident took place on the same day that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced that an airstrike had killed 35 al-Shabaab militants in Hiran province in central Somalia.</p>  <p>The airstrike was conducted 20 miles east of the city of Beledweyne on Sunday.</p>  <p>The bombing was part of an effort toward targeting al-Shabaab and reducing its strength in the region as well as supporting the Somali National Army.</p><br>

US airstrike in Somali kills 35 al-Shabaab militants

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - An airstrike killed 35 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia's Hiran province, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Monday.</p>  <p>The airstrike was conducted 20 miles east of the city of Beledweyne in central Somalia on Sunday.</p>  <p>The bombing was a part of an effort toward targeting al-Shabaab and reducing its strength in the region, as well as supporting the Somali National Army.</p>  <p>&quot;This airstrike targeted armed al-Shabaab militants as they were transitioning between locations in a rural area,&quot; AFRICOM said in a statement.</p>  <p>The strike comes a month after a U.S. airstrike killed at least 24 fighters in Shebeeley village of the central Hiran region. A few days later another strike in Somalia’s lower Shabelle region killed 13 fighters, according to AFRICOM.

"We continue to support our Somali partners, especially when their operations provide us opportunities to take the fight to Al Shabaab as an element of our partnered strategy," Gen. Gregg Olson, operations director of AFRICOM, said in a statement.

*Kasim Ileri contributed to the story

Terrorism expanding in Sahel region: African Union

By Addis Getachew

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AA) – Terrorism is expanding in the Sahel region — a region encompassing western and northwestern Africa, an African Union (AU) official said on Monday.

"The whole of West Africa is on alert," Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security told reporters following the closed-door 32nd Summit about the State of Security in Africa.

Chergui said that terrorism was expanding on a "daily basis" in the region and that Africa was ill-prepared against the threat which he said was "imported."

He described even Burkina Faso — a site of relative calm in West Africa — as facing an expanding menace of criminal and terrorist attacks.

– Libya

Chergui said the AU and UN agreed to cooperate on convening a national reconciliation conference in Libya. The date is yet to be announced, he added.

"Libyan people have suffered enough," he said, adding that it was armed groups, militias and external meddling that further complicated an already convoluted situation, without naming any single interfering foreign power.

He said that the planned reconciliation conference on Libya would be inclusive and that all Libyan stakeholders would take part, underlining that the country's situation affected neighboring countries as well, referring to a recent attack in Chad by armed men coming out of Libya.

– Somalia

On Somalia, Chergui said that while some challenges remained, progress was being made on "implementing the federal transitional plan."

"We want to prepare the Somali National Forces to take over security," he added, stressing that this could only be achieved after "positive development".

An African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) — a multinational armed intervention in the country located in the Horn of Africa — has been keeping the peace in Somalia as the militant group Al-Shabaab continues its attacks.

– South Sudan

Chergui said South Sudan was respecting the ceasefire as provided for in the peace deal reached by the warring parties on Sept. 12, 2018.

He appealed to the international community to provide the necessary financial resources for South Sudan to support the implementation of the peace process as opposing forces in the eastern African nation prepared to form a "Revitalized — Transitional Government of National Unity" in May.

US airstrikes in Somalia kill 15 al-Shabaab militants

            By Mohammed Dhaysane </p>  <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - At least 15 al-Shabaab militants were killed in separate U.S. airstrikes in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Friday.</p>  <p>The airstrikes were conducted over the past 48 hours against the al-Qaeda linked group’s positions in Gendershe village and Bariire town, it said in a statement.</p>  <p>  <p>It said the first airstrike took place on Feb. 6 in Gendershe, killing 11 militants, while the second airstrike on Feb. 7 in Bariire killed four militants.</p>  <p>The statement added that the airstrike on Bariire came after the Somali National Army was attacked by al-Shabaab militants as they conducted an operation to disrupt the group's efforts to illegally tax and intimidate civilians in the area.</p>  <p>Adow Mohamed, a Somali National Army captain in the Lower Shabelle region, confirmed the airstrikes to Anadolu Agency by phone.</p>  <p>The airstrikes were the latest by the U.S. over the past eight days, which have killed at least 50 al-Shabaab militants.

Dubai Port World official killed in Somalia's Puntland

            By Mohamed Dhaysane <br>

MOGADISHU (AA) – Paul Anthony Fermosa, who had managed Somalia’s Bosaso Port for UAE-based port-management firm DP World, was shot dead Monday in Somalia’s northeastern Puntland region, according to local officials.

“Fermosa, the head of Bosaso Port for DP World, has been shot dead by a gunman,” Puntland’s Port Administration Ministry said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters, Yusuf Mohamed Dhedo, governor of Puntland’s Bari region (in which Bosaso is located), told reporters that three other people –including an Indian national — had been injured in the attack.

According to Dhedo, the attacker was killed by port security guards in the immediate wake of the incident.

DP World, a global port operator based in Dubai, has yet to comment on the deadly attack, for which Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militant group has since claimed responsibility.

<p>According to local media, DP World appointed Fermosa to manage the Bosaso Port office in 2017.</p>