The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) says it is investigating claims of some civilians in Wardinle village near Baidoa died during intense fighting with al-Shabab fighters on Sunday.
A statement from AMISOM said it was not “clear at this point in time, if the fighting occasioned civilian deaths”.
AMISOM (@amisomsomalia) July 19, 2016
AMISOM troops following up on “credible intelligence of an al-Shabab radicalization exercise in the village” in the Bay region, were ambushed by fighters of the militant group as they approached the village “and an intensive fight ensued”, the statement noted.
“The terrorist fighters were overpowered and fled, after sustaining casualties. It is not clear at this point in time, if the fighting occasioned civilian deaths, as it is being claimed,” the statement further indicated.
The Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson for Somalia, Francisco Madeira said: “AMISOM holds civilian lives sacrosanct and any negligence or omission by our personnel will be dealt with severely in accordance with the African Union rules of engagement and relevant provisions of the International humanitarian laws, the international Human rights law and in full compliance with the UNHRDDP”.
#AMISOM troops are bound by African Union rules of engagement to minimize civilian casualties in all operations & this must be adhered to.— AMISOM (@amisomsomalia) July 18, 2016
Madeira revealed that his office in consultation with the relevant Somali government institutions were investigating the incident “to establish the veracity of the claims” adding that “we shall certainly get to the bottom of this matter”.
AMISOM together with the Somali government troops have since 2007 been battling the Islamist group, al-Shabab which aims to topple the western-backed government. They have managed to drive the group out of the capital, Mogadishu.
The 22,000 strong force has meanwhile had several run-ins with the militant group which has launched several attacks on its bases.