MOGADISHU, May 12 – The U.S. military said on Friday that it will investigate local reports that its forces killed civilians during an operation conducted in Somalia on Wednesday.
The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the African continent, said its special forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabab’s Alkaida-linked network near Bulcida on the outskirts of Afgoye in southern Somalia.
“We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, and we take these reports seriously. As with any allegations of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties,” Africom said in a statement.
“If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will determine the next appropriate step,” it added.
Local officials said at least five people were killed during the operation that targeted key al-Shabab commanders. The group has several training camps in the area.
At least ten civilians were killed in Barire in August 2017 forcing the government to compensate the families after it admitted those killed were civilians.
The U.S. government however maintained the dead were al-Shabab members although it did not offer details of the investigations.
Survivors and relatives of the deadly raid in Barire had said they wanted blood money and an apology from the U.S. government.
Washington has stepped up operations in the Horn of Africa nation in the past one year, killing both civilians and Alshabaab fighters after President Donald Trump softened restrictions on the military in March 2017.
Africom said the U.S. Department of Defense is fully committed to countering the threat of global fundamentalism, and will continue to support capable partners in the region.
“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces partner with AMISOM and Somali forces in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting suspected terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region,” it said.