US Africom To Investigate Civilian Deaths in Raid In Somalia

The US Africa Command (Africom) is launching a second investigation in a raid in August in Somalia in which it was reported that 10 civilians in the northeast African country were killed.

Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser

Africom Commander Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser

The general in charge of U.S. Africa Command (Africom) has requested a second investigation into an August raid in Somalia after reports that U.S. soldiers killed 10 civilians, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday. Reports say that the about-face comes after U.S.Congressman Ted Lieu pressed a senior Defence Department official to review recent media reports that the US troops had shot dead 10 unarmed Somalis on a farm in the town of Bariire in August.

A spokesperson for the US military outfit Robyn Mack in a statement on Thursday said, “As a result, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command, referred the matter to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to ensure a full exploration of the facts given the gravity of the allegations.”

Media reports say that US Special Forces personnel had killed unarmed Somali civilians and a child in an operation on August 25 in Somalia, according to the Daily Beast website quoting survivors in the town of Bariire. Shortly following the news report, Africom released a statement at the time insisting that it had only killed enemy combatants in the operation.

Map - Somalia

Map – Somalia

The account of Africom was duisputed by Somali eyewitnesses who said the US soldiers fired on unarmed civilians in the southern town.

Africom, through its spokesperson now says it will full y investigate the allegations of the killings. According to Ms. Mack, ‘ After a thorough assessment of the Somali National Army-led operation near Bariire, Somalia on August 25, 2017, and the associated allegations of civilian casualties, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) concluded that the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants.”

In a separate development, the U.S is suspending food and fuel aid to the Somali military due to concerns over corruption.

Somali Military

Somali Military

According to Reuters, the U.S. suspension of aid came after the Somali military repeatedly failed to account for food and fuel, according to private correspondence between the U.S. and Somali governments.

An official at the U.S. State Department told Reuters last week that, “During recent discussions between the United States and the Federal Government of Somalia, both sides agreed that the Somali National Army had failed to meet the standards for accountability for U.S. assistance.”

West African Journal Magazine