Witness History – The Somali pilot ordered to bomb his own country – BBC Sounds

At the end of May 1988, rebels from the Somali National Movement launched a series of lightening attacks on cities in northern Somalia – the area that today is the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

The rebels were fighting against the military dictatorship of President Siyad Barre.


By the start of June, they had taken control of most of Hargeisa, the biggest city in the north.

The Somali Pilot Ordered But Refused To Bomb His Own Country
Old Hargeisa War Memorial

Government forces fell back to Hargeisa airport and other areas on the outskirts and were ordered to begin the indiscriminate bombardment of the city.

At the time Ahmed Mohamed Hassan was a fighter pilot in the Somali air force.

He now faced a choice: join other pilots in bombing the city or refuse and face the prospect of being shot.

He’s been talking to Rob Walker.

(Photo: Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in 2023. Credit: Ahmed Mohamed Hassan)


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