The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), a continental peacekeeping force, has dismissed accusations it had a hand in the violence witnessed in Guri-el town in Galmudug State in Central Somalia, pitting the local militia against the government forces.
The fighting has been going on between the militia loyal to the moderate Islamist group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) and pro-government forces comprising of units of Somali National Army (SNA) and local Galmudug forces.
Earlier this week, information went viral accusing Amisom soldiers of participating in the combat and supplying arms to the pro-government forces in deadly clashes that lasted between Sunday and Wednesday this week.
On Thursday, Amisom released a statement rejecting the accusations.
“The leadership of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) has noted with deep concern allegations that our forces were involved and extended support to the Somali Security Forces (SSF) in the fight that broke out between them and Ahlu Sunna Walja’ama,” the statement released by the force’s spokesperson read in part.
Amisom described the accusations as false, toxic and malicious, which was deliberately intended to cause disaffection between Amisom and the Somali communities.
It added that Amisom operations, including military operations and support to SSF, are guided by the mandate provided by the AU Peace and Security Council and UN Security Council.
“They (the operations) are implemented in strict observance of the approved Concept of Operations and Rules of Engagement,” it added.
The statement underlined that the peacekeepers functions set out by the mentioned instruments are to disrupt and degrade the Al-Qaeda linked militia group, Al Shabaab, assist the SSF in their effort to put to an end terrorist activities in the country, bring peace and provide security support to enable the Federal Government of Somalia and its Federal Member States to carry out their functions of government, including providing security during elections.
The fighting, which erupted on Sunday morning between Galmudug State forces supported by Somali National Army (SNA) units against militias loyal to ASWJ has led to more than 120 deaths including many civilians, Somalia government officials said.
Amisom further indicated that together with the Somali Police Force, it is part of the National Elections Security Taskforce and has increased its personnel in all election constituencies, including in Galmudug.
“In fulfillment of this mandate, Amisom reinforced its forces in Dhusamarreb (the capital of Galmudug) for the purpose of securing the ongoing electoral process as part of the National Elections Security Taskforce strategy,” it stated.
“Amisom is not to turn their guns against Somali stakeholders engaged in political disputes with other Somali stakeholders.”
On Wednesday, ASWJ agreed to a ceasefire following talks brokered by the local business community, ending days of bloodshed in Guri-el town.
As per media reports, the group left town reportedly heading north to Godwiil area.
Galmudug President Abdi Karie Qoorqoor told the media on Wednesday that he was ready to defend Galmudug at all cost.