AU mission starts investigations into alleged deaths of civilians in Somalia

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The African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] has started official investigations into the alleged death of seven civilians in Lower Shabelle, following complaints from members of the public, who insist the victims were not Al-Shabaab militants.

On Tuesday, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces [UPDF] working in Lower Shabelle opened fire against suspected Al-Shabaab members, who reportedly ambushed them near a critical supply route along Beldamin-Golweyn.

According to AMISOM, the troops responded quickly by opening fire, which left the seven people dead. Firearms and rounds of ammunition were recovered from the militants, AMISOM said in a statement.

“While on a routine mission to secure main supply route along with the Beldamin-Golweyn Forward Operating Base in Lower Shabelle region, the troops were ambushed and attacked by Al-Shabaab militants,” read the statement.

“This was followed by the exchange of gunfire between Al-Shabaab and AMISOM troops. The patrol team seized firearms, rounds of ammunition, mobile phones among others.”

But a number of witnesses have dismissed the report by AMISOM, arguing that the victims were picked from their houses before being detonated. Two of them were truck drivers, witnesses said.

AMISOM now says it will investigate the incident before giving a report on the matter. It added that soldiers will continue executing their mandate in line with their obligations before their tenure comes to an end.

“AMISOM has since received reports that civilian lives were lost. Under the applicable International Law and Human Rights, AMISOM is obliged and deeply remains committed to carrying out its mandate in Somalia in strict compliance with such obligations. AMISOM has launched a thorough investigation of the incident.”