The African Union (AU)’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, AMISOM, has issued a formal apology for killing four civilians in the country after mistaking them for al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants.
According to a statement issued by AMISOM, the incident occurred on Saturday in the town of Buulo Mareer in the Lower Shebelle region, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
“A speeding vehicle approached the roadblock and failed to adhere to repeated warnings to stop. Assuming the car to be a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), the troops opened fire resulting in the death of four occupants of the vehicle,” the statement said.
“AMISOM profoundly regrets the loss of civilian lives that occurred during the operation and presents its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” it added.
An AU commission has launched an inquiry to determine the exact circumstances of the deadly incident.
Somalia has been the scene of a militancy by al-Shabab since 2006. The Takfiri terrorist group has been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government forces and the AMISOM, which is largely made up of troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.
Al-Shabab, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012, has been behind violence and chaos in Somalia, targeting key government and security figures in the capital, and elsewhere in the country.