The repeated indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighborhoods has been a long-standing issue for AU troops, and one the reports warn that commanders on the ground aren’t seriously trying to change.
Attention has grown to the problem, however, since this month’s insurgent attacks in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Al-Shabaab, the group responsible, says the attacks were revenge for the civilian killings by the AU troops.
The AMISOM spokesmen have issued a number of conflicting claims about the attacks, usually claiming that any neighborhood not under the control of the AU backed government is a legitimate military target (one which encompasses over 95% of Somalia’s population), and at other times denying that the attacks occurred at all. Today was a case of the later, as an AU major insisted that all the civilians killed in recent shelling of al-Shabaab controlled neighborhoods were actually killed by al-Shabaab itself. Why they would imagine the group would shell its own neighborhoods, particularly when every human rights group on the ground insists the attacks came from the AU troops, is never explained.
The fact that the African Union is at least acknowledging the issue privately is somewhat encouraging, though it remains to be seen if there is any political will to stop the killing of innocent Somalis.