Johannesburg – Following a dispute between the US military and Somali officials over whether civilians were targeted in a joint Somali-American forces raid in August, the head of US Africa Command has asked for an additional investigation, AP reported on Thursday.
Africa Command army spokesman Colonel Mark Cheadle said on Wednesday that Marine General Thomas Waldhauser has asked the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) to verify what actually happened during the raid in Bariire village by Somali troops supported by US special operations forces.
The call for a second investigation follows the release of a statement several weeks ago in which the Americans claimed that no civilians, including children, had been killed in the attack.
However, the Somali authorities subsequently questioned this claim after local villagers insisted that innocent civilians had been among the victims.
Wauldhauser also questioned discrepancies over the number of casualties.
A public uproar followed the August 25 raid, which had targeted a local farm, when the bloody corpses were laid out in the capital Mogadishu for public display.
Deputy-Governor, Ali Nur Mohamed, told reporters that the dead, including children age 8 to 10 and a woman, were killed “one by one mercilessly”.
US military action in the Horn of Africa country has increased since the beginning of the year under the Trump administration.
This has included frequent drone strikes against Al Shabaab militants who have carried out repeated deadly attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Mogadishu and in the countryside.
In October a double bombing by Al Shabaab militants in the capital left over 500 people dead.