Elders protest after Somali troops kill "Jihadists"
| Updated Aug 27, 2017 at 5:21am
Somali officials said last Friday, that they have killed eight jihadist fighters during an overnight operation, denying claims from local elders that they shot civilians dead, two of them children.
Somali community leaders accused the troops, accompanied by US military advisors, of having killing the nine civilians in the overnight operations.
An initial government statement said its troops had come under fire from jihadists while on patrol, insisting that no civilians had been killed.
Earlier, statement acknowledged that there were civilian casualties, in what the government seemed to suggest was a separate incident. They did not say who was responsible.
Somali troops and their "international partners" had come under attack early on Friday at a farm near Bariire, in the Lower Shabelle region, the first government statement said.
"The individuals shooting at the SNA (Somali National Army) soldiers were al-Shabaab fighters; they were not farmers," a General Sheegow, identified as the 20th Brigade Commander, said in the statement.
"Our security forces go to great lengths to prevent civilian casualties during all of our activities," the information ministry statement added.
But local elders called a news conference in the capital Mogadishu and displayed nine bodies, two of them children, saying they were civilians killed in cold blood by Somali troops.
The Somali soldiers had been accompanied by US military advisors, they added.
"The Americans forces and members from the Somali troops executed nine civilians by gun and as you can see all of them have gunshots," said one of the elders, Abdul Elmi.
"They were shot indiscriminately," he added.
Local security official Ibrahim Osman confirmed that nine civilians had been killed, but could not say in what circumstances that had happened.