US Army admits to civilian deaths in Somali airstrike

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US Army Command in Africa admitted it killed two civilians in an airstrike in Somalia in 2018, following an incident review triggered by pressure from Congress and Amnesty International.

The Command said the April 1 strike near El Burr, Somalia, killed two civilians and four militants, not five militants as the military originally reported.

It believed the civilian fatalities were an “isolated occurrence”, it said in a statement.

Amnesty said last month it documented 14 civilians killed in investigations of five air strikes, a fraction of those the US says it launched.

The command carried out 28 airstrikes in Somalia in 2019, compared with 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017. Most publicised strikes are followed by information on the number of militants believed killed.

Africa Command said the April 1 strike was not investigated by Amnesty and was committed to “credibility, transparency, and accountability”.

“It is critically important people understand we adhere to exacting standards and when we fall short, we acknowledge shortcomings and take appropriate action,” said the command senior officer, Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser.