Ugandan Soldiers Face Court Martial for Killing Civilians in Somalia

23 October 2021

The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) recommends a court martial for Ugandan soldiers implicated in killing civilians in a battle against Al-Shabaab militants.

A team investigating the August incident said Ugandan authorities should follow through and try the soldiers found culpable.

Amisom's investigators found that the soldiers operating in the Golweyn area in the Lower Shabelle region in Southern Somalia, about 110km south of Mogadishu, had on August 10 killed innocent civilians.

In a statement released on Friday, Amisom said: "The seven people killed were regrettably civilians, and the conduct of the personnel involved was in breach of Amisom rules of engagement."

The AU mission said that it would hold the implicated soldiers responsible in accordance with the recommendation by a six-member board assigned to conduct a full inquiry.

Thus, Uganda, as a troop-contributing country, is required to carry out the necessary punitive measures.

"Uganda...has constituted a court martial to try the errant soldiers," the statement reads.

The military court will sit and conduct its proceedings in Somalia.

Independent media in Somalia had published stories of the families grieving who said the seven were innocent farmers and not members of the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab jihadists.

However, the inquiry also found out that on the fateful day, Amisom soldiers did encounter Al-Shabaab fighters in the incident area that caused an exchange of gunfire.

"In the encounter, one Amisom soldier was killed and another sustained gunshot injuries," Amisom noted.

After the August incident, Amisom had initially said the seven people killed were terrorists.

But after complaints from families and the Somali government, the mission promised to investigate, saying it does "not condone criminal activities against civilians by its soldiers."

The six-member probe committee was chaired by a representative from the African Union Commission headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its membership included Amisom and Somalia government officials.

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