There is credible evidence that US military airstrikes in Somalia have killed or wounded nearly two dozen civilians, an international human rights group said Tuesday, charging that the Pentagon is not adequately investigating potential casualties. US Africa Command officials immediately disputed the allegations laid out in a report by Amnesty International, and insisted that the military has investigated 18 cases of possible civilian casualties since 2017 and found that none were credible. The seemingly contradictory information underscores the complexities of military operations against the al-Shabab group in Somalia, involving airstrikes by several allied nations in hostile, remote locations that are difficult to access safely, the AP reports.
The report came the same day that a Somali intelligence official said a US drone strike on Monday killed civilians. The Somali official said the drone targeted a vehicle carrying suspected militants and apparently hit another vehicle. In a rare move, US Africa Command mentioned those possible casualties in a press release about the strike and said officials will look into the incident. But, more broadly, defense officials said casualty allegations in Somalia are questionable because militants make false claims or force local citizens to do the same. Amnesty International, however, said it analyzed satellite imagery and other data, and interviewed 65 witnesses and survivors of five specific airstrikes detailed in the report.
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