HARGEISA, 14 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – African Union soldiers shot dead 11 camels in the Somali capital on Saturday night, mistaking the galloping animals for an insurgent attack, residents said. Al Shabaab rebels sometimes use passing civilians and vehicles to give them cover before attacks, police said, and the peacekeepers from AMISOM mission thought they were behind the camels which ran past the entrance to Mogadishu’s airport.
“We thought Islamists and AMISOM were fighting last night, but this morning we just saw 11 dead camels,” resident Farah Aden told Reuters. “Each camel had at least 10 bullet wounds — the whole area was covered with blood.”
We admit there was a mistake and we’ve spoken to the owners,” said Barigye Ba-hoku, spokesman for the AU troops who face nearly daily attacks from hardline Islamist rebels.
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“It was our new forces and they were not aware of the camels’ movements. They say they were attacked, and so opened fire,” he told Reuters.
Violence has killed more than 18,000 Somalis since the start of 2007 and displaced another 1.5 million. Insurgents who want to impose their own harsh version of sharia law have been battling the country’s Western-backed governments and AU forces. (Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Editing by David Clarke and Louise Ireland).