REPORT: AU troops behind civilian deaths of civilians in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A probe was done by an independent team has established that African Union Mission Forces [AMISOM] killed seven civilians in Lower Shabelle, just moments after the soldiers encountered Al-Shabaab militants in the region near the capital, Mogadishu.
The Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] has already constituted a court-martial which will try the case following the deaths of civilians around the Golweyn area on 10th August 2021. The report established that indeed, the troops had, however, encountered Al-Shabaab.
UPDF's decision to hold the soldiers accountable was reached following the report's finding. The deaths had raised concerns even from President Yoweri Museveni, who accused the troops of being "ignorant" on matters of war.
“AMISOM will hold the implicated soldiers to account to ensure that justice is served as recommended by the BOI,” a statement from the institution reads.
The report notes that on that fateful day, AMISOM soldiers encountered Al-Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of Golweyn. Exchanges of gunfire ensued. The civilians were caught in the crossfire between the UPDF soldiers and the Al-Shabaab fighters.
“In the encounter, one AMISOM soldier was killed and another sustained gunshot injuries,” the statement reads.
The court-martial to try the UPDF soldiers will sit and conduct its proceedings in Somali. The government of Uganda is expected to reach out to the bereaved families to discuss how to atone for the lives of those killed, under its obligations under the MoU signed with the African Union.
In addition, the decision comes amid differences between the Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union on the future of AMISOM in Somalia. While the former wants a reconfigured AMISOM, the latter insists on a hybrid mission between UN and AU.
AMISOM has close to 22,000 soldiers in Somalia who are selected from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, and Uganda. Somalia wants the soldiers to hand over security responsibilities to Somali National Army once the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan is done.