Somalia:10 civilians killed in US-backed raid -Government

Somalis look at bodies brought to Mogadishu after a number of civilians were killed during a military raid in Bariire village, southern Somalia, August 25, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Government officials in Somalia have confirmed that the 10 people who were recently killed in a joint US-Somali raid in Bariire village were civilians.

“The 10 people were civilians. They were killed accidentally… The government and relatives will discuss about compensation. We send condolence to the families,” media outlets quoted lawmaker Mohamed Ahmed Abtidon as saying at a public funeral held for the victims on Thursday.

At least 10 people, including three children, were shot dead on Friday when the Somali army, supported by US troops, carried out an operation in the village of Bariire, which is located about 50 kilometers from the capital Mogadishu.

The US Africa Command confirmed that American troops had been involved in the Bariire operation and that the command was investigating reports of civilian casualties.

The fatal assault was carried out under the expanded powers that President Donald Trump had granted to US troops in Somalia in March.

US authorities have not publicly commented on the raid since Friday.

Somalia’s military initially said all the dead were members of the al-Shabab Takfiri militant group but later acknowledged some civilians had died.

The Mogadishu government, however, later appointed a high-level investigation into the incident which was due to give its findings on Thursday.

Ibrahim Hassan Ali, a clan elder, earlier said that they had reached a deal with the government late on Wednesday.

“We met the government last night and agreed on three points: a national burial where the government officials will attend and admit the killings, compensation, and that the government will solve the clan conflict in the lower Shabelle region so that such incidents do not take place again.”

The Bariire operation is likely to draw questions about Washington’s growing foothold in Somalia.

Somali forces and African Union peacekeepers had fought to take Bariire village back from militants earlier this month. The region has also long been plagued by clan conflicts for control of the fertile farmland.

The White House has granted the military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al-Shabab militants.

Somalia has been torn apart by civil war since 1991.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-aligned militant group, was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011, but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets.

The group is just one of the challenges facing the new Somali government, which is still struggling to expand its authority beyond the capital and other selected areas.

By Africafrique and agencies

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