Somalia: Fatal shooting of four civilians by AMISOM troops must be investigated

The unlawful killing of four unarmed civilians by Burundi troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) must be investigated and the soldiers responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International has said.

The organization has spoken to relatives of those killed and eyewitnesses who saw AMISOM officers open fire on the four men - comprised of three lorry drivers and a rickshaw driver.

“These shocking killings by soldiers who are supposed to protect civilians must be thoroughly and impartially investigated by AMISOM, with those responsible held to account,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“It is deeply disturbing that forces trained to counter threats to civilians have turned against the people they are supposed to protect without any sense of self-control. This simply cannot happen.”

“It is also vital that this investigation fully protects and safeguards witnesses willing to come forward to testify.”

The shootings which seem like road-rage killings took place Tuesday in the Heliwaa district of the Somali capital Mogadishu. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International they saw AMISOM’s Burundi soldiers open fire on the four unarmed men at a close range and kill them.

The Burundi troops had been travelling in a convoy from Maslah when they ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) that exploded as they drove past the Ex-Control, Balaad neighborhood in Heliwaa.

In response to the explosion, they stopped, came out of their vehicles and arbitrarily shot dead the four men, who were in the vicinity. The troops then cordoned off the area for about 30 minutes before they left. Three of the men died on the spot while the forth died later in a Mogadishu hospital.

Some of the victims’ relatives told Amnesty International that three were lorry drivers who transported sand, while the other was a TukTuk rickshaw driver.

The four bodies, which should have been customarily buried by dusk yesterday, are lying at Banadir hospital morgue as relatives await justice for their loved ones.

A relative of one of the deceased told Amnesty International: “I am requesting the Somali government to speak up for those killed by AMISOM. We have not buried the dead bodies and it is already the second day, but no one is even talking to us including the government that is meant to protect its people. This is very unfair, and we are demanding justice.”