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Somalia Demands Explanation for US Airstrike

FILE - Al-Shabab fighters sit on a truck as they patrol in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 30, 2009. The U.S. military says its airstrike killed at least nine militants. However, the Somalia government says its soldiers were killed in the strike.

Somalia's government is demanding an explanation from the United States for Wednesday's deadly airstrike in central Somalia.

The Pentagon said in news release Thursday that its forces launched a "self-defense" strike against al-Shabab near the town of Galkayo, killing at least nine militants.

However, Galmudug state vice-president Mohamed Hashi Abdi told VOA's Somali service that the U.S. airstrike killed 13 members of Galmudug forces.

After the weekly cabinet meeting in Mogadishu, ministers in the government said they want "a clear explanation on the airstrike carried out by U.S. against forces belonging to the Galmudug, a Somali federal member state."

The cabinet said it will appoint a ministerial committee to investigate the airstrike.

Abdi said the Americans were "misguided" in a request that came from officials in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

"We fight against al-Shabab, and there is no al-Shabab presence in Galmudug area," he added.

Abdi said the Galmudug president and the U.S. deputy ambassador to Somalia met Thursday in Mogadishu to discuss the issue, and the U.S. diplomat pledged to provide clear answers.

Meanwhile, residents in Galkayo who were protesting the strike burned the U.S. flag Thursday.

The U.S. has carried out numerous airstrikes in Somalia targeting al-Shabab members, including a missile strike that killed the group's former emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane, in 2014.