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Possible war crimes flagged over drone strikes

Publish date: 13 May 2024
Issue Number: 1076
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Somalia

Amnesty International has released a new report accusing the Somali military of killing 23 civilians, including 14 children and five women, during drone strikes conducted with support from Turkish drones on 18 March. The strikes, which targeted Islamist insurgents in the southern Somali region of Lower Shabelle, also resulted in injuries to 17 other civilians. The 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 Southern 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 two villages. It includes testimonies from victims and eyewitnesses, as well as a review of satellite imagery, medical reports, photographs of victims and weapon fragments, and geolocated videos.

Amnesty has sent letters to the Governments of Somalia and Turkey requesting details on the operation, including which military forces were controlling the drone at the time of the strikes. The US Africa Command (Africom) did not respond to Amnesty's inquiries regarding whether US forces were involved in the strikes. 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 organisation by the US Government.

Amnesty International statement

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