Image source, AFPImage caption, Uganda has one of the biggest contingents of AU soldiers fighting in Somalia (file picture)

Five Ugandan soldiers serving with African Union troops in Somalia have been found guilty of killing seven civilians there in August.

Two of the soldiers have been sentenced to death, while three others have been given 39-year prison sentences.

The three will be repatriated to Uganda to serve their sentences there.

The civilians were unlawfully killed during a gun battle in Golweyn between its troops and al-Shabab militants, the AU says.

The AU's Amisom force has been in Somalia for 14 years.

It has been fighting the al-Shabab Islamists who retain a stronghold on parts of the country. Almost a third of Amisom's 20,000 troops are from Uganda – making it the biggest national contingent.

Saturday's court martial ruling by Uganda comes a month after the AU announced it wanted to expand its military operation in Somalia, pending approval from the UN and the Somali government.

"Our mission in Somalia is to degrade al-Shabab and other armed groups. In doing so, we absolutely have every responsibility to protect the civilian population", said commander of the Ugandan contingent commander Brig Gen Don Nabasa in a statement on Saturday.

VOA reports that some of the victims' families attended the court hearings organised by Uganda in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

"We are very happy with the court decision and expect compensation to be awarded to the families of those killed," Hussein Osman Wasuge – a spokesman for the bereaved relatives – is quoted as saying.

He told local media that one of the bereaved and six Ugandan soldiers were allowed to testify.

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This video can not be played

To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Media caption, The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga on patrol with Amisom troops in 2016