Somalia drone strikes killing 23 civilians should be investigated as war crimes: Amnesty International News
skeeze / Pixabay
Somalia drone strikes killing 23 civilians should be investigated as war crimes: Amnesty International

Amnesty International said Tuesday that two strikes in Somalia that killed 23 civilians in March should be investigated as war crimes. The strikes were carried out as part of Somali military operations and were supported by Turkish drones.

As part of their investigation, Amnesty International remotely interviewed victims and eyewitnesses, as well as the family members of the victims. They examined satellite imagery, medical reports, photographs of victims and weapon fragments, as well as geolocating videos taken at the site of the attacks and Turkish drone operations at Mogadishu International Airport. They were able to confirm that the strike, conducted with bombs dropped from drones manufactured by Turkey, did not distringuish between military and civilian objects, which might amount to war crimes.

Somalia hosts one of the largest Turkish military bases outside of Turkey. Since 2017  Turkey has been training Somali troops, as well as providing drones to aid the country’s counterterrorism efforts. In March, a farm near Bagdad village was hit by strikes, killing 23 people, including 14 children, and injuring 17 others. A family member interviewed as part of Amnesty’s investigation said:

I identified the bodies of my wife and children at the scene. My wife and children were buried in one mass grave in Gaalgube village, while my nephews were buried in Alifow village. I don’t know why my family was targeted during the holy month of Ramadan. I am heartbroken.

Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Tigere Chagutah, said that the “Somali and Turkish governments must investigate these deadly strikes as a war crime, and put an end to reckless attacks on civilians.”

The ongoing armed conflict between the government of Somalia and Al-Shabaab has had widespread and devastating impact on the civilians of the African country, with numerous breaches of international humanitarian law being reported. In its summary of 2022 events, Human Rights Watch stated that by November 2022, the UN had recorded at least 613 civilian deaths and 948 injuries in the region.