Three children among ten civilians killed in US-backed raid on Somali farm

Three children among ten civilians killed in US-backed raid on Somali farm

Ten civilians including three children have been killed in a raid by US-backed Somali forces on a farm in southern Somalia, a deputy governor said, as officials displayed victims' bloodied bodies in the capital.

The raid came as the US military steps up efforts against the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab.

Somalia's information ministry said eight al-Shabab fighters were killed in the operation and that no civilians were harmed.

But Ali Nur Mohamed, deputy governor of Lower Shabelle region, told reporters in Mogadishu the farmers were killed "one by one" after soldiers stormed the farm in Barire village.

Three children aged eight to 10 and a woman were among the dead, he said, calling the attack a "real genocide".

Their blanket-wrapped bodies were laid out in a grassy courtyard for display.

"These local farmers were attacked by foreign troops while looking after their crops," the deputy governor told reporters. "The troops could have arrested them because they were unarmed but instead shot them one by one mercilessly."

Al-Shabab, which has become the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, holds vast areas of rural Somalia after being chased out of major cities in recent years by a multinational African Union force and Somali troops.

The group continues to threaten the fragile central government and carry out deadly attacks in neighbouring countries, notably Kenya.

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, including more aggressive air strikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.

The US and Somalia in recent weeks said strikes have killed al-Shabab leaders responsible for planning and executing deadly attacks in Mogadishu, where high-profile areas such as hotels and military checkpoints are often targeted with deadly bombings.

AP

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