Somali Official: US Airstrike Killed 22 Soldiers

Accuses Puntland of Deliberately Calling in Strike Against Rivals

by Jason Ditz, September 28, 2016

The Pentagon claimed an overnight airstrike against Somalia killed a number of al-Shabaab fighters, but according to Somalia’s autonomous Galmudug Province Security Minister Osman Issa, the strike actually ended up hitting a number of Somali troops, killing 22.

According to Issa, it wasn’t a mistake on the US warplanes’ part, but rather a plot by the autonomous region of Puntland. He claimed the strike was called in by Puntland officials who falsely told the US that the soldiers were actually al-Shabaab.

The Pentagon didn’t want confirm or deny this, but did say they were “looking into” the reports that the strike had killed someone other than militants. The only other source to claim the slain were al-Shabaab was the Puntland government.

The whole incident reflects a very serious complicating factor of the US airstrikes in Somalia: that the myriad different factions on the ground that are nominally anti-Shabaab are often bigger rivals of one another, and are eager to use the US as a tool to further other disputes.

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