Amnesty International today called for an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that AMISOM, the African Union peace support operation in Somalia, opened fire indiscriminately in the capital of Mogadishu, killing civilians on Monday, (February 2).
An AMISOM spokesperson denied that troops opened fire on civilians, saying that three civilians were killed and one of their soldiers injured by an explosion on the Maka Al-Mukarama road that targeted one of their vehicles.
But Amnesty International has received several reports that AMISOM soldiers fired indiscriminately in response to the explosion, killing at least 10 civilians on board or boarding buses on that road, and injuring at least a dozen others. Reports indicate that at least 10 bodies with gunshot wounds were transported to the Medina hospital in the capital. AMISOM later stated that civilians killed in the incident were victims of both the explosion and gunfire fired by armed opposition groups.
The human rights organization said an investigation is needed to establish the number and identity of the civilians killed and injured in the incident, the nature of their injuries and the sources of the gunfire. If it reveals that AMISOM soldiers did open fire, the investigation should also establish whether all feasible precautions were taken to spare civilian deaths and injuries. Soldiers alleged to have opened fire should be suspended from duty pending the results of the investigation and anyone found responsible for violations of international humanitarian law should be brought to justice.
It is crucial that an effective public investigation is conducted into accusations that AMISOM troops unlawfully killed civilians. This would send a message to the Somali population that AMISOM is willing to uphold standards of international humanitarian law, in a situation where all parties to the conflict have unlawfully killed civilians with impunity, said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Africa program.
Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict in Somalia. Armed groups fighting the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces have used explosive devices in civilian-populated areas and launched attacks from civilian areas, while TFG forces, militias and their allies have carried out indiscriminate attacks as well as directly targeted civilians in response to attacks by armed groups.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.