The African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) has admitted that its troops killed several civilians in the war-ridden country last month.
On Friday, the mission’s head Maman Sidikou accepted responsibility for the “tragic” killing of several civilians at a wedding party in the southern Somali port town of Merca, offering his condolences to the bereaved families.
“We have established that, on that occasion, seven civilians died following an incident involving our troops,” he said, adding, “I would like on behalf of the African Union, to offer my sincere apology for these deaths. We regret these deaths.”
The official stressed that an “impartial” investigation has been launched into the deadly incident, saying that lawsuits have been filed against three AMISOM soldiers in connection with the murders.
“I have instituted a board of inquiry composed of military, civilian and police officers who are not from the contingent concerned in order to ensure impartiality,” he underscored.
Sidikou, however, mentioned that the African Union troops are working under tough conditions to restore stability and security to the violence-wracked country.
Maman Sidikou, the head of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
“Our soldiers are operating in a very complex environment,” he said, adding, “We will continue to appeal to our host communities to facilitate the work of our troops in the fight against Al-Shabab.”
Back in July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Ugandan troops belonging to AMISOM of murdering six members of a family following a grenade attack targeting African Union forces.
“At one house, where the Moalim Iidey family was celebrating a wedding, the soldiers separated the men from the women and shot the six adult men -– four brothers, their father, and an uncle,” read the reports issued by the rights body.
“Four died immediately, one brother hid under a bed after being shot but later died, and the father died during the night after the soldiers allegedly refused to allow the family to take him to the hospital,” the report added.
AMISOM had earlier rejected as “devious allegation” the reports that its forces were involved in the cold-blooded killings.
Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab Takfiri terrorists since 2006.
The militants have been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government forces and the AMISOM, which is largely made up of troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.