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AU Soldiers Indicted for Alleged Wedding Attack

FILE - In this photo provided by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), African Union (AU) soldiers from Uganda sit on their tank as residents walk past in the town of Bulomarer, in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia, Aug. 31, 2014.

Three soldiers with the African Union mission in Somalia, AMISOM, have been indicted in connection with the killing of Somali civilians last month.

African Union forces killed seven civilians at a July 31 wedding in the Somali town of Marka, said AMISOM chief Maman Sidikou at a press conference in Nairobi on Friday. “This incident has happened. It’s tragic. It’s terrible,” said Sidikou. “It’s going to be investigated thoroughly.”

Three Ugandan peacekeepers were indicted for violating rules of engagement, he said.

Human Rights Watch says that in the July 31 incident, Ugandan soldiers entered several houses after a nearby bomb attack on an AMISOM convoy. It says that in one house, the soldiers separated the men from the women and shot the six adult men – four brothers, their father, and an uncle.

It was not immediately clear who was the seventh victim, mentioned by Sidikou.

AMISOM commander Lieutenant General Jonathan Rono said his forces in Marka are under frequent attack from Islamist militant group Al-Shabab, but operate under strict protocols. “The environment we are operating, of course you are aware, is a very difficult one. But, all said and done, these instructions are there and our job is to make sure they are followed,” he stated.

There have been several recent reports of AMISOM peacekeepers killing Somali civilians. Sidiko said all are being investigated.

Sidikou said the Somali military, local and federal governments and the Marka community will take part in the investigation of the incident. It is expected to take about two weeks.