Responding to a press release by the U.S. Africa Command acknowledging an April 1, 2018 airstrike killed two civilians, Daphne Eviatar, the director of Security With Human Rights at Amnesty International USA stated:
“AFRICOM’s acknowledgement of civilian casualties is an important step forward from their previous denials of any civilian deaths or injuries from US air strikes in Somalia.
“But this is only a first step. We still need new investigation procedures and all cases of civilian casualties we have documented re-investigated.
“The family and community members of victims of these and other strikes who have had neither communication nor support from AFRICOM will find little solace in this initial response.
“That NGOs are able to more accurately investigate civilian casualties from AFRICOM strikes than the US military itself highlights deeply serious problems with their civilian casualties investigation and reporting procedures and the need for effective, independent scrutiny.”
As noted in our latest report, The Hidden US War in Somalia, during a nine month investigation Amnesty International interviewed witnesses and survivors from a total of fifteen air strikes in 2017 and 2018. One of those fifteen incidents was the 1 April 2018 strike in El Burr, that AFRICOM now admits killed two civilians. Our research indicated that a number of individuals, including at least two civilians, were killed when the truck they were riding in was hit by a US air strike, part of a pattern of strikes against vehicles in Al-Shabaab controlled territory. However, we were unable to gather enough corroborating evidence to conclusively prove the allegation, and so a full narrative of the strike was not included in the report.