El Adde, Gedo, Somalia –
Last night, Kenya Air Force carried out airstrikes in El Adde, a town and district located in Somalia’s southern Gedo region. According to local witnesses interviewed by the Somali Digest, the strike hit residential areas and injured several civilians. A similar incident, in which civilians died in a Kenyan airstrike, occurred in El Adde also two weeks ago.
Al-Shabaab, a militant group operating in the area, released a statement about the incident via their official media channels: “Four rockets were launched by the crusaders’ planes and hit civilian neighbourhoods in the El Adde district.”
According to the militants, the airstrike did not cause any fatalities. “Only two civilians suffered minor injuries, while civilian houses were destroyed,” reads the statement. The term “crusaders” is commonly used by Islamic extremists, including al-Shabaab, to refer to foreign military operations in Somalia.
The Somali Digest spoke with a resident who confirmed the airstrikes happened but also complained that al-Shabaab has prevented people from fleeing the town.
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. Less than two weeks ago, as we reported, El Adde also fell victim to Kenyan airstrikes targetting the homes of innocent civilians. The Kenyan jets launched four rockets which led to the death of two people. The incident resulted in significant property damage to the affected homes.
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.”
Kenyan military forces should be able to differentiate between al-Shabaab militants and civilians. If they fail to do so, their actions will degrade the efforts toward stabilizing and confronting extremism. Instead, communities will further radicalize and drive themselves to the hands of extremists.