NAIROBI – Acting on a false intelligence tipoff by the northern Somalia regional state of Puntland that heavily armed militants were preparing an attack near the central Somali town of Galkayo, US forces bombed a military base run by the Somali government-backed Galmudug state, killing at least 15 soldiers, sources said Thursday.
Puntland, a rival state of Galmudug had immediately claimed its forces carried out the airstrike and targeted militants who were preparing an attack on its security forces, denying US forces’ involvement in the deadly attack.
Vying for control over Galkayo town, Puntland and Galmudug forces have subsequently fought over territory and political rivalries in recent years.
Commenting on the attack, a Pentagon official told Voice of America’s radio that it had launched a “self-defense” airstrike on al-Shabab fighters in Somalia, killing at least nine militants in an apparent confirmation of the airstrike.
Galmudug’s security minister Osman Isse Nur said that the strikes targeted a base outside the village of Jehdin, 30 kilometers east of Galkayo, blaming intelligence forces in the neighboring Puntland administration for giving the U.S. incorrect information.
“This morning at 3:30 we believe U.S. planes bombed our base, acting on wrong information given by the Puntland intelligence,” he told VOA’s Somali Service.
US intelligence trained and established close relations with Puntland’s first rapid reaction force, known PRU as parts of its counter terrorism strategy in the horn of Africa nation.
The force has been accused of feeding US intelligence agents with wrong information that led to the bombing of its rival force’s base, a move which may instill mistrust among the two sides.