Wednesday 28 September 2016

Pentagon statement on events in Galmudug, Somalia - and Al Shabaab response

Full response from US defence spokesperson to allegations by the authorities in the Somali state of Galmudug that more than 20 of its soldiers were killed by a US air strike. Galmudug's security minister said Puntland told the US the soldiers were members of Al Shabaab. Puntland insists they were Al Shabaab fighters. Protestors in Galmudug have been burning the US flag.

"On September 28, in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted a self-defense strike against al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-associated terrorist group, in Galcayo, Somalia.

During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation to interdict an al-Shabaab Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making network, a group of armed al-Shabaab fighters attacked, threatening the safety and security of the Somali force and their U.S. advisors. Somali forces returned fire in self-defense.  The U.S. conducted a self-defense strike to neutralize the threat, killing nine (9) enemy fighters.

The U.S. remains committed to our partners in eliminating terrorism and advancing security in the region.  Violent extremists endanger the safety and stability of the Somali people; countering these threats remains in our common interests."

As for the allegations of CIVCAS:

"We have seen reports alleging non-combatant casualties as a result of a defensive strike. Once an allegation is reported, we conduct a review of all available relevant information. The review will include all relevant and credible information provided from numerous sources, including USG, NGOs, witnesses, family members, and even reports posted to social media. If the allegation is initially determined to be credible, additional levels of assessment are conducted."

Shortly after I received this statement, Al Shabaab got in touch to say none of its fighters were targeted or killed by an air strike. Al Shabaab said it has no fighters or bases in the area that was attacked by the US. It says it controls the Harardhere area in Galmudug, but has no presence in the place that was targeted, which is quite near to Galkayo.