The United States military says its investigation into civilian deaths in Somalia in August concluded that only armed enemy combatants were killed in an incident that brought protesters into the streets and sparked global outrage on social media.
Yet that assessment contradicts reporting on U.S. Special Operations activity that says there is “strong evidence” that 10 civilians were killed and finds inconsistencies with the official account.
“After a thorough assessment of the Somali National Army-led operation near Bariire, Somalia, on Aug. 25, 2017 and the associated allegations of civilian casualties, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) has concluded that the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants,” the U.S. said in a statement released from Stuttgart on Wednesday. Officials also released a longer explanation of their role in Somalia.
“Before conducting operations with partner forces, SOCAF conducts detailed planning and coordination to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties and to ensure compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict,” the statement adds. “U.S. Africa Command and the Department of Defense take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously.”
The U.S. previously confirmed that the Somali National Army was conducting an operation supported by U.S. forces in the area when the incident occurred. Independent reporting by Christina Goldbaum in Mogadishu, however, details information collected in interviews with three eyewitness survivors and dozens of Somali officials including military and intelligence staff.
All the physical evidence points to a U.S.-led operation, including shell casings from American weapons, she said, as do conflicting reports from sources who say American diplomats pressured Somalia to suppress the findings of their own investigation.
To see Goldbaum’s complete report, check this link.
Image: U.S. Air National Guard/Tech Sgt. Joe Harwood