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US finds civilian casualty reports in Somalia raid not credible, Africom says

A review of a U.S.-Somalia joint raid last month on suspected al-Shabaab fighters in Bulcida found that civilian casualty allegations were not credible, U.S. Africa Command said.

“Following reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, U.S. Africa Command performed a thorough review and determined the allegations of civilian casualties to be not credible,” Africom said in a statement on Friday, June 8.

“As with any allegation of civilian casualties, U.S. Africa Command reviewed all available relevant information concerning the incident.”

Africom said on May 11 that it was reviewing reports that five civilians had been shot dead in the May 9 raid, in which U.S. forces assisted the Somali military.

Ali Mohamed Moalin, a traditional elder close to Afgoye in Lower Shabelle where the raid took place, said “two military helicopters” were involved as well as “some foreign special forces,” AFP reported at the time.

“There are five dead bodies of innocent farmers who have been killed by the special forces last night,” Moalin said.

He added that three other people were taken to hospitals.

The U.N. Security Council reauthorized the African Union Mission in Somalia on May 15. It was first launched in 2007 to defend the internationally-backed government against al-Shabaab, and more than 22,000 personnel are deployed on the mission. Africom works with AMISOM on both advise-and-assist missions as well as air support missions to target al-Shabaab’s forces, but has drawn controversy from airstrikes that have killed civilians.

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