International

Amnesty finds US drone strikes ‘killed civilians’

The rights group, Amnesty International, says it has unearthed evidence that recent US drone strikes in Somalia killed and injured civilians.

Amnesty says an 18-year-old woman and a 53-year-old banana farmer were killed in two separate drone strikes, one in the town of Jilib, the other in Kumbareere village. Three others were injured.

The US acknowledged the attacks but said they killed “terrorists” from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Amnesty analysed satellite images and video evidence, as well as speaking to family members and the victims’ communities, who insisted the dead were not members of the militant group.

Amnesty says US air strikes have in total killed more than 20 Somali civilians since it started its air campaign in Somalia more than a decade ago.

But the US, which has significantly increased air strikes against al-Shabab since Donald Trump took office, has only ever admitted to killing two civilians – a woman and a child in 2018.

Analysts say its possible the deaths of civilians will radicalise their family members, pushing them towards al-Shabab.

On Tuesday the US military announced it would from next month publish reports on allegations of civilian casualties in its Africa operations.

The US is involved in counter-terror operations across the continent, principally in the Sahel and in the east and Horn of Africa.