Amnesty International reports 23 civilian deaths in Somalia linked to Turkish drones

Amnesty International has reported that the attacks killing 23 civilians during Somali military operations with support from Turkish drones should be investigated as potential war crimes, calling on both Ankara and Mogadishu to take immediate action.

Satellite imagery from Sep. 22, 2022 shows a Turkish built, Bayraktar TB2 drone at the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Duvar English

Amnesty International on May 7 stated that 23 civilians were killed in two military attacks in Somalia using Bayraktar TB-2 drones made by the Turkish company Baykar, which may amount to war crimes.

Amnesty stated that the attacks were orchestrated against civilians from the marginalized Gorgaarte clan including children and women on 18 March, 2024.

The locals told Amnesty that the drone strikes followed fierce ground fighting that had broken out earlier that day between the armed group al-Shabaab and Somali security forces in an area close to the villages.

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

The international organization stated that its researchers confirmed that the attacks were carried out with “MAM-L glide bombs, which are dropped from TB-2 drones.”

Amnesty noted that it has been “unclear” whether Turkish or Somali forces were in control of the drones during attacks due to conflicting statements made by the two governments in the past.

Accordingly, one source from the Somali government has told Amnesty that Somali military personnel fly the TB-2s during combat operations against Al-Shabaab. Nonetheless, in 2022, the Turkish government has underscored that the country did not transfer the drones to Somalia in violation of the UN arms embargo, but rather have been operating the drones themselves “in the fight against terrorism.”

The same year, the Somali government stated that the drones have been operated by Turkey while the targets were designated by the local authorities.

The two countries have been in military cooperation for a long time and signed a Defense and Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in February 2024.

Amnesty reported that on 5 April, it wrote to the governments of Somalia and Turkey asking which military forces were controlling the drones during the attacks, but received no response.