The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) denied that three U.S. soldiers were killed by an al-Shabaab mortar attack. AFRICOM accuses the extremist group of fabricating casualties of U.S. service members at the forward operating base (FOB) of Baledogle–also referred to as “B-dog”–on February 15, 2019.

AFRICOM spokesman Christopher P. Karns told Xinhua News Agency, “No U.S. casualties were reported after an airfield at Baledogle, Somalia, received indirect fire February 15,” he added, “The terrorist group al-Shabaab falsely claimed it killed three U.S. soldiers in the attack.” According to Karns, there’s a detectable rise of casualty numbers extremist groups falsely claim in the press after an attack.

Within al-Shabaab, a high number of actual casualties occurred in recent months after the Trump administration granted AFRICOM more room to target the extremist group in Somalia. Karns said: “In 2019, persistent pressure has been placed on al-Shabaab by the federal government of Somalia, its forces, and partners in an effort to degrade its network.”

AFRICOM denies US casualties in latest al-Shabaab attack
Baledogle base in Wanlaweyn, Somalia, during Operation Restoring Hope, 1993. (Source: Sgt. D. W. Mobley)

Al-Shabaab claimed on February 15th that it conducted a mortar attack—a strategy it deploys on secure installations. The attack supposedly killed three American soldiers and five Somali members of the Danab (Lightning) Advanced Infantry Battalion. Baledogle is also the training facility for the Danab members by American trainers. The base is located 95km northwest from Mogadishu and was used by the Somali Air Force before the civil war started in 1989.