AU troops kill civilians after Al-Shabaab ambush, Somali governor says
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Senior Somali official insists African Union mission forces [AMISOM] killed civilians last week, claiming the incident occurred after troops were ambushed by Al-Shabaab militants in the south of the country.
Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, governor of the troubled Lower Shabelle region, said he made a confirmation after holding a meeting with local residents, adding that five farmers were among the civilians who were killed in the fiasco.
Two other civilians whose vehicle broke down by the side of the road were also killed by peacekeepers, he said. Nur said he personally knew one of the farmers, who died instantly after the onslaught by AU forces.
According to reports, the killings took place in the town of Golweyn, about 100 kilometers south of Mogadishu, on August 10. The Ugandan People’s Defense Force [UPDF] was occupying the premises at the time of the incident.
Already, Somali and AU officials have confirmed that al-Shabab militants ambushed peacekeepers during a routine patrol near Golweyn. The soldiers engaged the militants in a violent firefight that lasted several hours before the incident of civilian deaths was reported.
The African Union insisted that those killed were activists who took part in the ambush, a claim which was disputed by a number of eyewitnesses. The troops are accused of trampling innocent civilians and then shooting them.
According to Governor Nur, an AU soldier was killed; two others were injured. It is not yet clear whether the killing of civilians took place during or after the ambush. AU officials said they were investigating the incident.
In a tweet on the day of the attack, the African Union said routine Ugandan troops “initiated and dislodged” an al-Shabab ambush.
“During the counterattack, 7 terrorists were killed while others were wounded and an assortment of weapons were recovered,” AMISOM said in a tweet. In the tweet, AMISOM said one of its soldiers was injured. The tweet has since been deleted.
In a statement, AMISOM appeared to claim that those killed had ties to Al-Shabaab militants, but promised to ensure that proper investigations were carried out. After investigation, the mission said, the report will be published for further action.
“On August 10, 2021, soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on a routine patrol to secure the main supply route as well as the Beldamin-Golweyn Forward Operating Base in the Lower Shabelle region, were ambushed and attacked by Al-Shabab militants, “the AU said in a statement on Aug. 11.
The AMISOM team also said that troops seized guns, ammunition cartridges and cell phones during the shooting against al-Shabab.
“AMISOM has since received information that civilians have been lost,” the statement read. “To this end, AMISOM has launched a full investigation into the reported incident. The investigative team will present its findings and this will be followed by a commission of inquiry.