Somalia: Allegations of AU force firing on civilians need investigating
Amnesty International has called for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that the African Union peace support operation in Somalia (AMISOM), opened fire indiscriminately which resulted in the killing of civilians in the capital Mogadishu on 2 February 2008.
Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Deputy Director, Michelle Kagari said:
“It is crucial that an effective public investigation is conducted into accusations that AMISOM troops unlawfully killed civilians. This would send a message to the Somali population that AMISOM is willing to uphold standards of international humanitarian law, in a situation where all parties to the conflict have unlawfully killed civilians with impunity.”
A spokesperson for the AU peace support force has denied that it opened fire on civilians, saying that three people were killed and one of their soldiers injured by an explosion on the Maka Al-Mukarama road that was targeted at one of their vehicles.
However, Amnesty International has received several reports that AMISOM soldiers fired indiscriminately in response to the explosion, killing at least ten people who were boarding or about to board buses on that road, and injuring at least a dozen others.
Reports indicate that at least ten bodies with gunshot wounds were transported to the Medina hospital in the capital. AMISOM later stated that civilians killed in the incident were victims of both the explosion and gunfire fired by armed opposition groups.
If an independent investigation reveals that AMISOM soldiers did open fire, it should also establish whether all feasible precautions were taken to spare civilian deaths and injuries. Soldiers alleged to have opened fire should be suspended from duty pending the results of the investigation and anyone found responsible for violations of international humanitarian law should be brought to justice.
Amnesty International has called for the investigation to establish the number and identity of those killed and injured in the incident, the nature of their injuries and the sources of the gunfire.