Somali government: 10 civilians were killed in joint Somali - U.S. raid

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali government officials said on Thursday that 10 men and boys killed in a joint U.S.-Somali raid were civilians and that blood money will be paid to the families.

“The 10 people were civilians. They were killed accidentally... The government and relatives will discuss about compensation. We send condolence to the families,” said lawmaker Mohamed Ahmed Abtidon at a public funeral held for the 10, who were killed in a raid in Bariire village on Friday.

U.S. Africa Command had confirmed the presence of U.S. troops in the raid, carried out under the expanded powers that U.S. President Donald Trump granted to U.S. troops in Somalia in March.

U.S. officials have not publicly commented on the raid since Friday, when they said they were investigating reports of civilian casualties.

The Somali government appointed a high-level investigation into the incident which was due to give its findings on Thursday. But Abukar Osman Sheikh Mohamed, the chairman of the clan leaders, said the final findings would be announced on Monday.

“On Monday, we wait for the blood money evaluation, return of our licensed guns, compensation for animals killed and those who massacred (our people) will be known and taken to court,” he said.

Clan elder Ibrahim Hassan Ali said that they had reached an agreement with the government late on Wednesday.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

“We met the government last night and agreed on three points: a national burial where the government officials will attend and admit the killings, compensation, and that the government will solve the clan conflict in the lower Shabelle region so that such incidents do not take place again.”

The state ministers for public works and the interior were also at the funeral, signaling senior government participation, although they did not offer details of the deal.

“We solved their complaints,” said Ahmed Abdi Kariye, the minister for public works. He did not take questions.

The raid took place in an area plagued by clan conflicts for control of the fertile farmland. Earlier this month, Somali forces and African Union peacekeepers took Bariire village back from Islamist insurgents, who have long exploited the region’s clan conflicts.

Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Hugh Lawson