NAIROBI (Reuters) – A U.S. army command admitted on Friday it killed two civilians in an airstrike in Somalia in 2018, following a review of the incident triggered by pressure from Congress and Amnesty International.
U.S. Africa Command said the April 1 strike near El Burr, Somalia, had killed two civilians and four militants, not five militants as the U.S. military had originally reported.
It believed the civilian fatalities were an “isolated occurrence”, it said in a statement.
Amnesty said last month it had documented 14 civilians killed in investigations of five air strikes, a tiny fraction of those the U.S. says it has launched.
The command has carried out 28 airstrikes in Somalia in 2019, compared with 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017. Most publicised strikes are followed by information on the number of militants believed killed.
Africa Command said the April 1 strike was not one of those investigated by Amnesty, and that it was committed to “credibility, transparency, and accountability”.
“It is critically important that people understand we adhere to exacting standards and when we fall short, we acknowledge shortcomings and take appropriate action,” said the command’s senior officer, Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser.
Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by George Obulutsa and John Stonestreet