Somalia: Amnesty International accuses Somali military of killing civilians in drone strikes

Mogadishu – Amnesty International has released a new report accusing the Somali military of killing 23 civilians, including 14 children and five women, during drone strikes carried out with the support of Turkish drones on March 18, 2024.

The attacks, which targeted Islamist rebels in the southern Somali region of Lower Shabelle, also resulted in injuries to 17 other civilians, including 11 children and two women.

The human rights watchdog has called on both the Somali and Turkish governments to investigate these incidents for potential war crimes. Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and South Africa, Tigere Chagutah, said: “The devastated survivors and their families deserve truth, justice and reparations.”

The report details the extensive damage caused by the drone strikes, which took place in the village of Jambaluul and near the village of Bagdad. It includes testimony from victims and eyewitnesses, as well as a review of satellite images, medical reports, photographs of victims and weapon fragments, and geolocated videos. The investigation also identified the bombs dropped from the drones as “MAM-L glide bombs,” citing images of munitions scrap.

In response to the report, Amnesty International has sent letters to the governments of Somalia and Turkey requesting details of the operation, including which military forces controlled the drone at the time of the attacks. The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) did not respond to Amnesty’s inquiries about whether US forces were involved in the attacks.

This incident is part of a larger, ongoing conflict between the government of Somalia and Al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgent group designated as a terrorist organization by the US government.

The Lower Shabelle region has been particularly affected by the insurgency, with Al-Shabaab storming a military base in the region and resulting in the deaths of nearly 20 soldiers in March 2024.

The international community and human rights organizations are closely monitoring the situation and are calling on both the Somali and Turkish governments to take immediate action and investigate the drone strikes as potential war crimes.

Amnesty International’s call for truth, justice and reparation for the victims of these attacks underscores the urgent need for accountability and compliance with international humanitarian law in the conduct of military operations.

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