Mogadishu (TeleSUR) – According to witnesses and a local governor, 10 farmers and three children under 10 years old were shot and killed by Somali and US forces.
Ten Somalis, among them three children aged eight to ten, were shot and killed “one by one” in a raid on a farm by Somali and United States forces in Southern Somalia, witnesses say.
While the Somali army initially claimed that no civilians were killed in the operation, they later revised their position, releasing a statement saying they “understand that there are civilian casualties in which the Federal Government is investigating to find out the truth.”
The participation of U.S. soldiers in the raid was confirmed by the U.S. Africa Command, which said it was “conducting an assessment into the situation to determine the facts on the ground.”
The farmers in Bariire in Lower Shabelle, about 50 miles from Mogadishu were killed “one by one by one mercilessly,” the regional Deputy Governor Ali Nur Mohamed told reporters according to Al Jazeera.
“These local farmers were attacked by foreign troops while looking after their crops,” Mohamed told reporters. “The troops could have arrested them because they were unarmed but instead shot them one by one mercilessly.”
One witness, Warsame Wador, spoke to Reuters and said all the farmers were asleep when the early morning raid began.
“It was this morning when white and Somali forces entered the farm. All the 10 people were asleep and I ran for my life. As I ran away I could see four armored vehicles parked outside,” Wador said.
Local clan elder Abukar Osman Sheikh said to Reuters that “they were sleeping in their farm when U.S. and Somali forces came into their farm and opened fire.”
“Last year, the U.S. killed my people in Galkayo in a deliberate strike. We shall not bury them. We shall no longer tolerate it,” the elder said, referring to a U.S. confirmed 2016 airstrike in Galkayo that killed at least 10.
The civilian casualties come several months after U.S. President Donald Trump approved to expand U.S. involvement in military operations against the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab group. The Somali National Army released a statement saying that the attack was part of a raid against a “farm in Bariire with known al-Shabaab presence” carried out with “international partners.”
This post was originally written for and published by TeleSUR English.