AU forces confirm conviction of UPDF soldiers for killing civilians in Somalia

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AU forces confirm conviction of UPDF soldiers for killing civilians in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The African Union (AU) mission in Somalia [AMISOM] confirmed the conviction of five soldiers of the Ugandan People’s Defense Force [UPDF] contingent in Somalia, for the murder of civilians in Lower Shabelle.

In a statement, AU forces insisted that they would continue to carry out their mission as stated in existing documentation, adding that those found guilty of committing crimes would face the full force of the law.

Brigadier General Don Nabasa, sector I commander of the UPDF, said the main mission of the troops is to help degrade Al-Shabaab militants, who control large rural areas in central and southern China. Somalia.

“As soldiers, we have a responsibility to protect lives and property. Our mission in Somalia is to degrade Al-Shabaab and other armed groups. In doing so, we have an absolute responsibility to protect the civilian population,” said Brigadier General Don Nabasa. .

The same statement was reinforced by Lt. Gen. Diomède Ndegeya, the AMISOM force commander, who said he would not allow soldiers to stray from their primary task of protecting civilians in the nation of the Horn of Africa.

“As AMISOM soldiers, we will continue in our ranks to ensure strict compliance with our obligations as we carry out the task of pursuing and degrading Al-Shabaab,” noted the Burundian.

A military court in Mogadishu on Friday sentenced two Ugandan soldiers and three others to death to 39 years in prison for killing civilians in the Lower Shabelle region. The Ugandan court martial found the five officers guilty of killing civilians in Gobweyn in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region in September.

Hussein Osman Wasuge, spokesperson for farmers in the Lower Shabelle region, told the BBC’s Somali service that some of the victims’ relatives and farmers witnessed the proceedings.

The procedure had been underway since October 5 at Halane base camp, where the UN and Amisom headquarters are based in Somalia. Seven witnesses had testified against six suspected Ugandan soldiers.

“For two days, the people who testified against the military participated in the process. The trial was taking place in the Halane camp, but for us Somalis there were no lawyers to represent us,” Hussein Osman said. .

UPDF soldiers killed civilians after a deadly Al-Shabaab ambush. Some of the victims were farmers, others bystanders. Last month, the AU mission took full responsibility for the unlawful killings of civilians and said the soldiers’ conduct violated the rules of engagement.

AMISOM initially claimed that the victims were “terrorists”. Former Lower Shabelle Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Siidii was the first official to denounce the AU soldiers, saying the victims were civilians. Siidii was mysteriously fired recently.

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