Araweelo News Network

dadkaduqayntakudhintayMogadishu(ANN)Somalia’s government has requested an explanation from Washington for a US airstrike which it says killed more than 20 people. The US says the attack was part of a ‘counter terrorism operation’ targeting al Shabab.

A government statement said the “unfortunate and deplorable” strike in Galkayo had been carried out without the knowledge of the Somali authorities.

“The cabinet requests the US government give a clear explanation about the attack its planes carried out on the Galmudug forces,” it said.

At least 22 soldiers and civilians were killed in the attack on Wednesday, according to local officials. They alleged that no al Shabab militants were in the area at the time, and accused the US of acting on erroneous information about the al Qaeda-affiliated group’s whereabouts.

Somali General Ali Bashi confirmed that members of the local forces were killed in the strike, which he described as a case of “friendly fire.”

‘Self-defense’ strike

While the US admitted to carrying out an attack in the region, it said the “self-defense airstrike” was in support of Somali forces and had killed nine al Shabab militants. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said reports others may also have died were being investigated.

Meanwhile, angry residents staged protests over the strike, with many burning the US flag and chanting anti-American slogans.

The US has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al Shabab in support of the Somali military campaign to rid the Horn of Africa nation of the group.

African Union forces pushed al Shabab out of Somalia in 2011, but the Islamist terror group has retained a deadly presence in the country. They have carried out a number of recent attacks in an attempt to overthrow the Western-backed government, and officials have raised concerns they will try to disrupt elections scheduled to take place in November.

nm/jm (Reuters, dpa)