Urgent investigation necessary crime committed warlord Muse Bihi and SNM militia fighting takes a heavy toll on civilians northern Somalia in Las Anod

File Photo Somali Times/Warlord Muse Bihi killing women and children

More than 100 people have been killed and over 600 injured including dozens of civilians amid fighting between Hargeisa SNM militia forces and SSC fighters affiliated with the Dhulbahante clan in Las Anod, Amnesty International said today,

as it shares findings that Hargeisa SNM militia forces indiscriminately shelled the town, damaging hospitals, schools and mosques, killing and injuring civilians, and displacing tens of thousands of people, according to Amnesty International reported.

Read: UN Human Rights Committee has called for an investigation into the killings in Las Anod

Read: UN Human Rights Committee has called for an investigation into the killings in Las Anod

“All parties to the conflict in Las Anod must end indiscriminate attacks, commit to protect civilians and respect the rules of international humanitarian law. Hospitals and ambulances should never be targeted.

There must be an independent investigation into all human rights and humanitarian law violations to ensure accountability for those responsible and reparation for victims,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

Read: UN Human Rights Committee has called for an investigation into the killings in Las Anod

Humanitarian groups reported that between 154,000 to 203,000 people were displaced to neighboring towns and villages, while some crossed the border to Ethiopia. They are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Those worst affected are women, children, and older people.

“This humanitarian crisis is compounded by the effects of the ongoing, devastating drought in the region. All parties must allow and facilitate humanitarian organizations’ unfettered access to civilians in need of assistance in Las Anod and other affected areas,” said Tigere Chagutah.

From 6 February to 6 March, Amnesty International interviewed 37 people in Las Anod, including victims, victims’ relatives, witnesses, doctors, and humanitarian workers. The organization also analyzed casualty numbers from five local hospitals in Las Anod.

Civilian deaths and injuries

Among the civilians killed were women, children, older people with health conditions, and healthcare workers. They were mostly killed during indiscriminate attacks involving rockets, mortars, and other explosive weapons with wide area effects, which should never be used in populated areas. In dense urban settings, many unguided explosive weapons, such as the inherently inaccurate 107mm rockets, are too imprecise to distinguish between military objectives, civilians, and civilian objects. Their use in such circumstances violates the prohibition in international humanitarian law of indiscriminate attacks.

On 6 February, on the first day of fighting, Rayan Abdullahi Ahmed, a seven-year-old girl, was hit and killed by a munition while inside her aunt’s house in the Samalay neighborhood, in southern Las Anod.

Rayan’s mother told Amnesty International that her daughter was hit in the head by a large shrapnel that killed her instantly: “Relatives took her to the Las Anod general hospital, but she was already dead. My daughter was buried in a mass grave with several other people who died that day.”

On the same day, Amina Jama Ibrahim, a 38-year-old woman, was hit by a munition while inside her house in the Ex-Control neighborhood, in eastern Las Anod. Close relatives of Amina, including her mother in-law, told Amnesty International that her body was torn apart when she was struck by a munition and that her remains were buried in Las Anod that evening.

Amnesty International compared and analysed satellite imagery of Las Anod town from before the attack – on 24 December 2022, and after – 4 March 2023. Over 30 structures appear visibly damaged in the imagery and seven of those locations align with ground photos received, including the Las Anod general hospital, Salahuldin mosque and several homes. A lot of the damage visible in imagery was concentrated on a road on the eastern side of the city, further corroborating testimony collected from interviewees.

The organization analyzed several photos showing remains of weapons collected from various parts of the town and confirmed that they were remnants of 107mm rockets, and the damage to the homes was consistent with being struck by rocket warheads of that size. Amnesty International was not able to identify the country of manufacture but assessed them to be weapons commonly used in Hargeisa SNM militia .

Warlords Muse Bihi and Mohamed Kahin, Nuh Ismail Tani with their militia must be held accountable for massacring women, children and bombing Las Anod General Hospital. Crimes against humanity should have consequences.