Somali air strike claims four lives

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An air strike near the Somali town Afgoye killed four, a relative said.

The United States frequently carries out attacks targeting Islamist militants in the Horn of Africa country. The attacks bolster Somalia’s UN-backed central government against al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab insurgents.

Abdiqadir Nur and three others died while driving through Laanta Buuro village in Lower Shabelle region, south-west of Mogadishu, relatives said.

“Nur and three others died on the spot. His brother Mahad Nur is totally burnt,” Nur’s cousin Abdullahi Ali said.

Ali said his cousin Nur was an employee of telecoms firm Hormuud Telecom, but the company said it had no employee by that name and no personnel died in an air strike.

In an email to Reuters, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it carried out the air strike on Monday and three militant died in the attack.

“We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties. The U.S. Africa Command will review any information about the incident, including relevant information provided by third parties,” it said.

Al Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, but retains a strong presence in southern and central Somalia.

Al Shabaab, which wants to impose strict Islamic law in Somalia, says relatives of jihadists killed in air strikes are often motivated to join its ranks.