US military says probing reports of Somali civilian deaths

The US Africa Command (Africom) has said it is investigating reports that five civilians were killed in Somalia on Wednesday night in a raid involving American forces.

The alleged civilian deaths came after joint Somali-US forces carried out an operation “to disrupt and degrade al-Shabab’s terrorist network near Bulcida” village, close to Mogadishu, Africom said.

In a statement, it added that “we are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, and we take these reports seriously. As with any allegations of civilian casualties we receive, US Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties”.

“If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, [Africom] will determine the next appropriate step.”

The US has been growing its footprint in the Horn of Africa nation in recent years.

Last year, a US Navy Seal was killed in Somalia, the first American combat death there since 1993.

The Trump administration has granted the US military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al-Shabab.

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