Street FIGHT:Conflict
Airstrikes Hit Lower Juba....Again
Third Airstrike Hits Al-Shabaab Targets in Southern Somalia
By AWEYS CADDE 07/06/2011
Reports from Lower Juba region indicate that airstrikes, suspected to be US drones or planes, hit three al-Shabaab militant training camps on the outskirts of Afmadow district, 100 kilometers southwest of Kismayo, on Wednesday, according to local residents and confirmed by a government official.

Residents in Afmadow told Somalia Report that they could hear blasts early on Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, insurgents prevented residents from moving throughout the city, particularly in area of the incident, as their own vehicles raced throughout Afmadow.

“Early in the morning and before the sunrise, we heard more than five heavy blasts not far from the town. We believe it was an airstrike,” said a resident in Afmadow on condition of anonymity. “Minutes later, we saw three military vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed to Kismayo. We believe they were carrying victims of the attack," he added.

“In the last days there have been problems within the militia. They have lost confidence. Everyone who crosses near their bases is suspected of spying. They have arrested many people, some of them were released after we identified them as residents. The others, however, are still in the hands of al-Shabaab,” he said.

Somali Deputy Defense Minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig spoke to a pro-government FM radio station in Mogadishu and said that the government was aware of the attack.

“The airstrike hit three al-Shabab bases between Afmadow and Dhobley. They targeted foreign terrorist elements, which were hiding in the area. All in all the airplanes fulfilled their aim,” Hidig said. “The foreigners and senior officials of the terrorist group are afraid. They are secretly hide amongst the civilians. The airstrikes will continue until we minimize the enemy from our country,” he added.

Dr. Omar Ahmed, an academic and Somali politician, told Somalia Report that airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab will only serve to increase the local support of the militants.

“There is no reason for the western countries to use airstrikes against al-Shabaab. It will only increase the generations supporting al-Shabaab,” he said. “For example, when the Americans killed Aden Eyrow, the capability of al-Shabaab was very low. From that day forward, the militia increased in size day-after-day. They recruited many youths, persuading them that infidels attacked their country and want to capture it.“

Last month, airstrikes were conducted against al-Shabaab targets in Kismayo and Lower Juba by pro-Somali government partner countries.

The US has a history of using drones against terrorist targets, most recently in Somalia. For an in-depth analysis of this tactic, please see our story "Enter the Drones."