A United States airstrike in central Somalia on Wednesday targeting al-Shabaab militants is reported to have killed 22 soldiers and injured 16 others.
The commander of the Somali National Army, General Ali Bashi Mohamed confirmed the casualty on Thursday saying al-Shabaab fighters were not killed in the attack.
“The U.S. airstrike east of Galkayo town in Mudug region killed only Somali Army and civilians there, Al-Shabaab fighters were not killed in the attack, We have made investigation to the case,” he was quoted by the Somali News Agency SONNA.The Minister of Galmudug State where the attack was conducted accused a neighbouring state (Puntland) of giving the U.S. allies wrong information demanding for an explanation.
“We believe Puntland Security forces gave wrong intel to the U.S. We need response from United States of America,” the minister said.
The United States told the media that they carried out a “self-defense air strike” after Somali troops faced fire from militants as they tried to stop an improvised explosive device (IED) making network, Reuters reports.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said nine al Shabaab militants were killed in the strike, but they are looking into reports that the strike could have killed others.
“We will look at the reports to see if they are credible and if they are credible we’ll investigate them,” Davis said.
Reuters also reports that al Shabaab has denied that it had any fighters in the area of the latest incident.
“We neither have a base nor forces in Galkayo area,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman said.
The Somali has issued a statement calling for calm as some members of the area are demonstrating against the U.S. for the killing.
Somali town protests against US airstrikes as officials visit scene, say they hold US responsible 4 killing soldiers pic.twitter.com/2RNKCHgySF— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) September 28, 2016
A government appointed team has been put in place to investigate the incident, the statement added.
The United States is working with the Somali army in a joint operation to oust the militant group al Shabaab which is fighting the Western-backed government to set up an Islamic caliphate in the country.