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‘Civilians killed’ in Somali military operation

Storyline:National News, Security

A Somali official on Friday accused the country’s armed forces and its foreign backers of killing nine civilians — including a woman and a child.

Ali Nur Mohamed, deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region, told reporters the civilians were killed when foreign troops with Somali forces raided a farm near Bariire village.

“Forces from the Somali government and foreign troops stormed a farm near Bariire village earlier on Friday [and] killed at least nine people.

“Military commanders and other government authorities in the region don’t know about the operation,” Nur said.

“The victims were all civilians and we do not yet know why these innocent farmers were killed,” he added.

He described the incident as “a real genocide” and blamed the U.S.

At Madina hospital in the capital Mogadishu, officials displayed the victims to the media on Friday afternoon.

Some local media are reporting the death toll as 10 civilians.

The government said its forces, backed by U.S troops, had taken control of Bariire from the al-Shabaab terrorist group last week. In a statement, it denied there had been civilian casualties and said eight al-Shabaab terrorists had been killed by the Somali National Army.

U.S. Africa Command said it was “aware of civilian casualty allegations” and could “confirm that the Somali National Army was conducting an operation in the area with U.S. forces in a supporting role”.

“We take any allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and per standard, we are conducting an assessment into the situation to determine the facts on the ground,” an American statement added.

Bariire is a small strategic village located 64 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.