Forces belonging to the Africa Union Mission in Somalia have shot and killed seven civilians following an ambush by al-Shabab militants last week, a Somali governor told VOA Somali.
The governor of the Lower Shabelle region, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, said he confirmed through meetings with local residents that five farmers were among the civilians killed. Two other civilians whose vehicle broke down on the side of the road were also killed by the peacekeepers, he said. Nur said he personally knew one of the farmers.
The shootings took place near the village of Golweyn, about 100 kilometers south of Mogadishu, on August 10.
Somali and AU officials confirmed al-Shabab militants had ambushed the peacekeepers during a routine patrol near Golweyn. The soldiers engaged the militants in a heavy firefight lasting several hours. The attack took place in a farmland area about 2½ kilometers from Golweyn, Nur said in a telephone interview.
One AU soldier was killed; two others were injured, according to Nur.
FILE – Soldiers with the African Union Mission in Somalia march through the town of Golweyn in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, August 30, 2014, in this handout picture released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team.
It is not yet clear if the killing of the civilians occurred during or after the ambush. AU officials said they are investigating the incident.
In a tweet on the day of the attack, the African Union said that Ugandan troops on routine patrol “engaged and dislodged” an al-Shabab ambush.
“During the counterattack, 7 terrorists were killed while others sustained injuries and an assortment of weapons was recovered,” AMISOM said in a tweet. In the tweet, AMISOM said one of its soldiers sustained injuries. The tweet has since been deleted.
The following day, AMISOM issued a statement promising a thorough investigation.
“On August 10, 2021, soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) while on a routine patrol to secure the Main Supply Route along the Beldamin-Golweyn Forward Operating Base in the Lower Shabelle region, were ambushed and attacked by Al-Shabab militants,” the AU said in a statement on August 11.
AMISOM said troops seized firearms, rounds of ammunition and mobile phones during the gunfight against al-Shabab.
“AMISOM has since received reports that civilian lives were lost,” the statement further read. “To this end, AMISOM has launched a thorough investigation into the reported incident. The investigation team will present its findings and this will be followed by a Board of Inquiry.”
AMISOM officials did not respond to VOA requests for comment.