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US Africa Command review finds two civilians were killed in Somalia airstrike

A review of civilian casualties connected to its airstrike campaign in Somalia found two noncombatants were killed during a February 2019 attack, U.S. Africa Command said Monday, April 27, 2020.

U.S. AFRICA COMMAND

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 27, 2020

STUTTGART, Germany — A review of civilian casualties connected to its airstrike campaign in Somalia found two noncombatants were killed during a February 2019 attack, U.S. Africa Command said Monday.

The findings were part of AFRICOM’s first quarterly report on civilian casualties, which it says it launched to boost transparency.

AFRICOM said it’s likely that two civilians were unintentionally killed and three were injured as a result of an airstrike on Feb. 23, 2019. The strike also killed two al-Shabab terrorists, who were the intended targets, AFRICOM said.

“While we follow very precise and rigorous standards, in instances where we fail to meet our expectations, we will admit the mistake,” AFRICOM’s Gen. Stephen Townsend said in a statement.

Between Feb. 2019 and March 31, AFRICOM conducted 91 airstrikes against militants in Somalia and Libya.

During this period, AFRICOM said it received allegations of civilian casualties based on 27 different incidents. There were a total of 90 alleged civilian casualties.

AFRICOM said it has closed its investigation of 20 of the alleged incidents, while the other seven remain under review.

To date, AFRICOM has acknowledged three total civilian deaths connected to airstrikes in Somalia, where the U.S. has increased pressure in recent years on the al-Shabab militant group.

Last year, Amnesty International issued multiple reports that accused AFRICOM of killing more than a dozen civilians in various strikes in Somalia. AFRICOM has regularly disputed the nonprofit group’s findings, stating that its post-strike analysis includes intelligence methods unavailable to nonmilitary groups.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver