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U.S. to probe on alleged civilian casualties in military operation in Somalia

U.S. to probe on alleged civilian casualties in military operation in Somalia

The US Africa Command on Friday said U.S. military will probe claims that a raid in Somalia that included U.S. forces killed civilians in Thursday’s raid on a village near Afgoye town, 30km Southwest of Somali capital.

Five farmers were killed and several others were injured in an attack based on faulty intelligence.

The attack took place in Moalimka Village where forces dropped from helicopters conducted the operation.

In a statement, U.S. Africa Command said any civilian casualties as a result of early Thursday’s military operation in Lower Shabelle region will be investigated.

“We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, and we take these reports seriously. If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will determine the next appropriate step,” the statement reads in part.

 Africom, which has in the past conducted counter-terrorism airstrikes against the terror group in Somalia, confirmed that the Somali National Army was conducting an operation in the area with U.S. forces in a supporting role.

“U.S. forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab’s terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia, May 9,” the Mission said.

A Somali intelligence official said three Al-Shabaab commanders were seized in the joint raid.  He added that the forces were targeting a key militant hideout and coordination centre. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

MP and former Federal Minister of Internal Security, Abdirizak Mohamed called on the Somali government to conduct it’s own parallel investigation into the raid in the wake of the reports that the Pentagon is looking into the incident.

“I urge our govt to investigate this report of a joint US-Somali forces raid that killed five civilians on the outskirts of Bariir,” he tweeted while linking an article from the Washington Examiner

Last August, also in Bariire, the Somali government admitted culpability in the death of 10 men and boys killed in a joint U.S.-Somali raid after a high-level investigation into the incident. The families of the deceased received compensation from the Somali government in the form of blood money. The U.S. government has not reversed it’s decision and maintains that those killed were Al-Shabaab fighters.

Somali government did comment on the attack which reportedly claimed lives of local farmers.

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