Africa AU Peacekeepers Accused of Killing 11 Somali Civilians
Peacekeepers were reportedly involved in two fatal incidents at the weekend.
A Somali government official claimed that African Union peacekeepers based in the country killed 11 civilians in two separate incidents over the weekend.
The governor of the Lower Shabelle region, which is located in southern Somalia, told Voice of America that AMISOM troops had been involved in two incidents. Ibrahim Aden Najah said that peacekeepers shot at a minibus in the town of Qoryooley, around 70 miles away from the capital Mogadishu, Saturday. Najah said that he had been told by AMISOM that the peacekeepers suspected that the vehicle was carrying explosives; car bombs are frequently used by al-Shabab to attack AMISOM and other targets.
Six civilians were killed in the shooting. AMISOM acknowledged the Qoryooley incident via its Twitter account Monday. “AMISOM notes with concern the unfortunate incident in Qoryooley where civilians lost their lives in an attack,” it said. “AMISOM would like [to] reassure the Somali people of its commitment [to] working with Somali authorities to protect lives and property of Somalis.”
The mission said it was investigating the matter further before releasing a full statement.
AMISOM force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Joe Kibet tells Newsweek that a 7 p.m. local time curfew was in operation in the area and that the vehicle was stopped around 11.30 p.m. local time.
The Lower Shabelle governor Najah also told VOA that, in a separate incident, an AMISOM convoy had hit a landmine in a village near the coastal town of Merca. An armored vehicle belonging to the mission reportedly ran over several homes late Sunday, killing five people, including three children and a baby.
Kibet says that an AU vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) Saturday evening, resulting in the vehicle being damaged and the troops securing the location overnight. But he says that he received no report of an AU vehicle running over houses, though the mission is investigating and will release a statement in due course.
In conjunction with Somali security forces, AMISOM has been relatively successful in taking back territory once held by al-Shabab. The mission expelled the militant group from Mogadishu in 2011, but al-Shabab has remained a potent threat and continues to carry out regular suicide bombings and armed attacks in and around the capital in particular.
Several countries have been making noises about pulling their troops from the mission, which has suffered several high-casualty attacks in recent years. Ethiopian troops based in central Somalia unilaterally withdrew in October, leaving al-Shabab the ability to take control of a village in the region.
Uganda’s military head also said in June that the country’s 6,000 troops in Somalia would leave by the end of 2017, citing frustration with a lack of progress on behalf of Somali national forces and the countries training them, including the United States and United Kingdom. The AU’s Peace and Security Council said that the entire mission would withdraw by 2020.
The mission was involved in another civilian death Thursday, when an AMISOM police vehicle hit and killed a civilian, who swerved into the road, according to an AMISOM statement. The mission said it was carrying out internal investigations into the incident.