Somalia defends U.S. airstrikes, says crucial to crush Shabaab

Amnesty International has accused AFRICOM of failing to report civilian casualties

Somalia has defended the U.S airstrikes in the war against Al-Shabaab noting the support by the U.S military was crucial in decimating the militant ground amid concerns by campaign groups the hellfire offensives had resulted in civilian casualties.

In what appeared to be a response to a statement by Amnesty International on civilian deaths by Africom airstrikes, the Federal Government said in a statement Wednesday the strikes were ‘a crucial part of reducing al-Shabaab’s ability to target military and civilians in Somalia.’

The government also noted it collaborates with Africom to ensure civilian casualties are minimized and cases investigated.

“In conducting airstrikes, measures are taken to absolutely minimize risk to civilians and to prevent damage. Each claim of civilian casualties is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly,” a statement from the Ministry of Information read in part.

Amnesty lashed out at Africom Tuesday for what it termed as failure to admit civilian casualties and even provide support to affected families.

“The evidence is stacking up and it’s pretty damning. Not only does AFRICOM utterly fail at its mission to report civilian casualties in Somalia, but it doesn’t seem to care about the fate of the numerous families it has completely torn apart,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

Amnesty said Wednesday two civilians were killed in a U.S airstrike in February both in Jilib, Middle Jubba region.

The report by Amnesty came a day after Africom announced it would from next month issue quarterly reports on civilian casualties in Somalia.

“To demonstrate our transparency and commitment to protecting civilians from unnecessary harm, we plan to publicize our initial report by the end of April and we will provide quarterly updates thereafter,” Africom commander General Stephen Townsend said.

Goobjoog News

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