Reports: African Union peacekeeping force backed by the U.S. has killed, wounded, displaced Somali civilians

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Al-Shabab leaders say the peacekeepers and the shelling are the key reasons it bombed two sites in Uganda's capital last Sunday, killing 76 people watching the World Cup final.

[Global: Africa]


Below is an article by Washington Post correspondent Sudarsan Raghavan discussing reports by people in Somalia concerning the deaths, damage and destruction caused by the intervention forces led by Uganda.

MOGADISHU, Somalia
– An African Union peacekeeping force funded by the U.S. and its allies has killed, wounded and displaced hundreds of Somali civilians in a campaign against Islamic militants, according to medical officials, human-rights activists and victims.

Led by Ugandan and Burundian troops, the force has intensified shelling in recent weeks as Somalia's al-Shabab militia, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has pushed closer toward the fragile government's seat of power. The shells are landing in heavily populated areas controlled by the government.

Al-Shabab leaders say the peacekeepers and the shelling are the key reasons it bombed two sites in Uganda's capital last Sunday, killing 76 people watching the World Cup final.

The mounting civilian toll is breeding popular resentment that threatens to undermine Somalia's U.S.-backed government, complicating Washington's efforts to combat Islamic militancy in an area where al-Qaeda's affiliates are posing a threat to U.S. interests and regional stability.

The peacekeepers deny using disproportionate force and say they exercise maximum restraint, even when they are in imminent danger of attack. They say al-Shabab uses civilians as human shields and in some cases has fired mortar shells at civilians and blamed the peacekeepers.

Over four days in the capital last week, this reporter heard as many as 20 shells being fired from one African Union peacekeeping position every day.

For complete report please see
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/17/AR2010071702652.html?sub=AR&sid=ST2010071702786

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