AFRICOM admits killing of civilians in Somalia airstrike
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) admitted that it killed one civilian and wounded three others in an airstrike in Somalia in a rare acknowledgement of civilian casualties from US Africa Command military operations in the Horn of Africa country. The civilian deaths, it said, occurred as a result of US or al Shabab munitions that exploded during the airstrike. “Our goal is to always minimize impact to civilians. Unfortunately, we believe our operations caused the inadvertent death of one person and injury to three others who we did not intend to target,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. It was the second known incident in which AFRICOM has acknowledged killing civilians in Somalia, where rights activists have accused it of long shrouding its operations in secrecy. In more than a decade Al-Qaeda linked group Alshabab are fighting to take over the central government and rule the country with the Islamic law understood based on their own rigid interpretation. In 2011, the African Union sent 20,000 peacekeepers to join government forces and drive Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu. While the group has been chased outside the capital city, it still controls swaths of territory outside the cities and launches attacks including suicide bombings targeting government and international affiliates.