Somalia: African Union 2, civilians 0

African Union soldiers in Somalia

Nairobi/Mogadishu – The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has admitted its troops opened fire on a group of civilians in the capital Mogadishu, killing two and injuring seven.

According to a statement released late Tuesday, an AMISOM convoy leaving the airport “accidentally” opened fire on a group of civilians near a United Nations compound. “We are not certain whether the soldiers were responding to a perceived threat to their own safety,” Force Commander Major General Nathan Mugisha said in the statement.

“However, all the soldiers involved have been … taken into a military custody while a full inquiry is launched into the precise circumstances that took place.” “AMISOM takes its responsibility for the safety of civilians in Mogadishu very seriously, and apologises for the fatalities that have occurred today,” he added. The statement was a rare acknowledgment that AU fire had killed civilians.

AMISOM has long been accused of indiscriminate shelling and firing that led to the deaths of non-combatants, but has always denied such actions. Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers are in Mogadishu to prop up the weak Western-backed government, which is under siege from Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab and its allies. More than 21,000 people, largely civilians, have died since the insurgency kicked off in early 2007. Somalia has been embroiled in conflict since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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