El Adde, Gedo, Somalia –
According to al-Shabaab’s media production, the recent airstrikes on El Adde, a district in Somalia’s southern Gedo region, which resulted in civilian casualties and destruction of homes, were conducted by Kenyan Air Force. The Somali Digest later confirmed the information.
The al-Shabaab-affiliated website reported that the airstrikes allegedly targeted the homes of innocent civilians, with the Kenyan jets launching four rockets that led to the death of two people. Additionally, the incident resulted in significant property damage to the affected homes.
The Somali Digest spoke with a resident who confirmed the airstrikes and the loss of two civilian lives. “Last night, El Adde was attacked, and we could hear the sound of loud explosions. I was later told that two civilians were killed in the attack. I don’t know if the planes were from Kenya or elsewhere.”
Not the first time
It is not the first time that controversy has been sparked by the involvement of the Kenyan Air Force in airstrikes targeting civilians.
In 2016, Kenyan airstrikes in El Adde killed at least 17 civilians and wounded over 30 others. The airstrike followed an al-Shabaab raid on a Kenyan military base in El Adde, in which the militants allegedly killed over 100 Kenyan soldiers serving under AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia (now ATMIS).
Similarly, a mother and her child were killed, and four others were injured when a Kenyan warplane bombed El Adde and Hisa-u-Gur towns in June 2021. The Somali government at that time condemned “continual Kenyan airstrikes that kill and maim civilians in Somalia.”
Fears of a new exodus from El Adde
Concerningly, the airstrikes in the Gedo region have recently increased, coinciding with heightened attacks by al-Shabaab in Kenya. In the past, such airstrikes forced families to leave the region for safety. In 2016, hundreds of civilians fled El Adde after Kenyan planes indiscriminately bombarded the whole area.
Kenyan forces should be able to differentiate between al-Shabaab militants and civilians. If they fail to do so, their actions will not contribute to efforts toward stabilizing and confronting extremism but rather to further radicalize communities in support of extremism.