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  • The Amnesty report said 14 civilians were killed and eight injured in strikes.

    The Amnesty report said 14 civilians were killed and eight injured in strikes. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 20 March 2019

Airstrikes in Somalia have steadily risen during the Trump administration, from 47 in 2018 to 28 so far this year.

Credible evidence has surfaced to support allegations that United States airstrikes have killed or wounded almost two dozen civilians in Somalia.  The report said 14 civilians were killed and eight injured in strikes.

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“Amnesty International’s research points to a failure by the U.S. and Somali governments to adequately investigate allegations of civilian casualties resulting from U.S. operations in Somalia,” the report disclosed.

The United States’ Africa Command officials disputed the report and insisted that the military has investigated about 18 cases of possible civilian casualties, since 2017, and found that none were credible.

“The civilian death toll we’ve uncovered in just a handful of strikes suggests the shroud of secrecy surrounding the US role in Somalia’s war is actually a smokescreen for impunity,” Brian Castner, a senior adviser at Amnesty International, said.

Somali officials reported that a drone strike Tuesday targeted a vehicle carrying suspected militants but also hit another vehicle with civilians.

Tuesday the international human rights group charged that the U.S. Pentagon has not been adequately investigating potential casualties resulting from the military airstrikes, prompting the United States’ Africa Command to promise that it will review the details of the incident related by the report. 

U.S. defense officials said the casualty figures are subjective because al-Shabab makes false claims.

However, Amnesty International rubbished the United States’ explanation, saying the organization has analyzed satellite imagery and other data, and interviewed 65 witnesses and survivors of five specific airstrikes to support the report’s findings.

“Our findings directly contradict the U.S. military’s mantra of zero civilian casualties in Somalia. That claim seems all the more fanciful when you consider the USA has tripled its air strikes across the country since 2016, outstripping their strikes in Libya and Yemen combined” Castner added.

Airstrikes in Somalia have steadily risen during the U.S.'s Donald Trump administration, from 47 in 2018 to 28 so far this year.


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