MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali forces supported by U.S. troops shot dead 10 Somalis, including three children, in a village near the capital of Mogadishu on Friday, a witness and local officials told Reuters.
The involvement of U.S. troops was confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, which offered no further details.
The Somali army said no civilians were killed and said all the dead were members of the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militia.
The incident is likely to provoke uncomfortable questions in Washington about the growing U.S. footprint in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been torn apart by civil war since 1991. A U.S. Navy Seal was killed in Somalia in May, the first U.S. combat death there since 1993.
The White House has granted the U.S. military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al Shabaab, the latest sign President Donald Trump is increasing U.S. military engagement in the region.
But local elders said the keenness to engage left the U.S. open to being in clan feuds.
The village that was attacked, Bariire in Lower Shabelle, about 50 km from the capital, has a history of clan feuds, lawmaker Dahir Amin Jesow said.
He said those killed were farmers who had armed themselves to defend themselves from a rival clan.
“The two clans who fought misinformed the U.S. forces,” he said, saying one group may have tipped off security forces that the other group was insurgents.
Reuters viewed nine bodies at Madina hospital; one injured man later died, medical staff said. The dead children were eight, nine and 10 years old, said clan elder Abukar Osman Sheikh.
“It was this morning when white and Somali forces entered the farm. All the 10 people were asleep and I ran for my life,” witness Warsame Wador told Reuters.
“As I ran away I could see four armored vehicles parked outside,” he added.