Controversy surrounds an airstrike in the Bakool region of Somalia, which has left at least nine people dead, all allegedly from a single family. While the terrorist group al-Shabaab was quick to point fingers at the United States for this deadly attack, independent verification remains a challenge. The incident is bringing into focus the complexities and consequences of airstrikes in the fight against terrorism.
Burdhudhunle, Bakool region, South West State, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
The tragedy occurred near the village of Buurdhuhunle (Buur Dhuxunle), with al-Shabaab claiming that American drones targeted the family’s mud house on the outskirts of the village.
The Somali Digest reached out to a local resident who confirmed the occurrence of an airstrike. According to this source, the airstrike targeted Sheikh Ishaaq, the father of the deceased family. Sheikh Ishaaq was allegedly a prominent figure within al-Shabaab, which just recently elevated him to a higher rank. It remains unclear which entity carried out the airstrike. Several players with such capabilities operate in the region.
Nevertheless, al-Shabaab asserted that on the morning of Friday, 22 September, at precisely 9:20 am, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted the deadly airstrike. Al-Shabaab confirmed that this resulted in the deaths of eight women and children, all from the same family. Al-Shabaab’s press release did not admit the killing of their prominent member, Sheikh Ishaaq.
AFRICOM has remained tight-lipped, not providing any official response to al-Shabaab’s claims. However, a glimmer of clarity emerged when Carla Babb, a correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) in the Pentagon, mentioned on her X account that a senior U.S. defence official denied any U.S. involvement in an airstrike in Somalia on that particular day.
Airstrikes targeting high-profile al-Shabaab leaders have been a key strategy in attempts to weaken the group’s grip on Somalia. However, these operations become counterproductive when civilians are caught in the crossfire. The deaths of innocent civilians, as in this case, cannot be dismissed as “collateral damage.” Such incidents serve as a propaganda tool for al-Shabaab, drawing new recruits and garnering popular support. This further complicates the already challenging task of combatting the militant group in the region.