In Somalia, six civilians have been killed in an airstrike by a US drone, says a lawmaker and relative of one of the victims.
“A drone killed six people in a mini bus yesterday, including a 13-year-old boy named Abdifatah Farhan Mohamud,” Mahad Dhore, a lawmaker from Somalia’s South West state, told Reuters, providing the news agency with the names and clans of the six victims.
“Six of them were civilians and they were buried near the area where they were bombed by the drone, because they could not be carried as they were burnt into pieces.”
The US Africa Command claimed the strike near the town of Janaale had killed “five terrorists,” an apparent reference to al-Shabab. It added that reports of civilian casualties would be investigated.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Aden Bare told Reuters he was the brother of the minibus driver, and that his brother was a civilian and the others aboard were farmers and local residents.
“The drone hit the front part of the mini bus which my brother was driving. We found no trace of him save a small piece of flesh that was found stuck on the destroyed seat,” he said.
Al-Shabab was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011, but it continues to wage deadly attacks around the city and in other parts of the country.
The Pentagon stepped up its airstrikes in the country after getting President Donald Trump’s approval in 2017 for expanded military operations there.
There have been many ambiguities surrounding such airstrikes and bombardments in the rural regions of Somalia, with human rights groups regularly complaining about civilian causalities.
Last March, Amnesty International said the US military may be guilty of war crimes for killing large numbers of civilians in the sharply-intensified campaign of airstrikes in Somalia over the previous two years.