A spokesman for the African Union Peacekeeping mission in Somalia known as AMISOM is denying published reports that African Union peacekeepers are indiscriminately shelling civilians in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press cited “internal African Union reports” which said that if indiscriminate shelling continues the AU mission will lose the support of the Somali people.
AMISOM spokesman Major Barigye Bahoku said that while he did not know about the report, he believes militant groups such as al-Shabab must take responsibility for their frequent use of civilians as human shields.
“I don’t know where the AP (Associated Press) got this report from, and I am quite uncomfortable responding to a report that I’ve not seen. But whatever case it is, I think what we should be thinking about is that the forces opposed to the peace process which unleash their regular attacks from residential areas and all types of places using human shields is what’s causing the loss of life in Mogadishu. So, blame must be taken to the doorsteps of those who always provoke those situations,” he said.
Bahoku expressed regrets that civilians are regularly caught in cross fire, but he said that is the nature of the place called Mogadishu.
The AMISOM spokesman also said he wanted to clarify that not all dead bodies in Mogadishu are necessarily those of civilians.
“Some of the dead, in fact, the majority of those bodies that are being talked about are bodies of the fighters, but they are putting on the same clothes as any other Somali,” he said.
African leaders meeting in Uganda’s capital, Kampala this weekend are likely to consider sending more troops to Somalia or change the mandate of AMISOM.
Major Bahoku said the peacekeepers will carry out whatever decision reached in Kampala.
“The decision of the AU summit in Kampala is the decision of the heads of state. I don’t think I’m at liberty to comment on whatever decision they will take. They are leaders of Africa and we trust that they have got the wisdom to take a decision concerning any country in Africa. And so any decision that they take that can be helpful toward resolving this conflict would be very welcome by AMISOM troops that were mandated by the same leaders to come and help the Somalis gain their freedom and peace,” Bahoku said.