According to international and local reports, up to 31 civilians, including at least one child, were killed as the town of Hayi or Xayo was subjected to either US or Ethiopian-waged airstrikes.
Heavy civilian casualties were reported in airstrikes on Hayi near Afmadow, 250km northwest of Ras Kamboni, and other parts of southern Somalia, in confusing reports which may conflate activity by US and other forces.
An elder told Reuters that 22 to 27 people had been killed, while a Somali politician told CBS News that 31 civilians “including a newlywed couple” had been killed by two helicopters in Hayi, 30 miles from Afmadow. “The U.S. military is ready to carry out more strikes, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. But whether it does will depend on getting good intelligence on the whereabouts of any al Qaeda operatives left alive. A Somali lawmaker said 31 civilians, including a newlywed couple, died in Tuesday’s assault by two helicopters near Afmadow, a town in a forested area close to the Kenyan border. The report could not be independently verified. A Somali Defense Ministry official described the helicopters as American, but witnesses told The Associated Press they could not make out identification markings on the craft. Washington officials had no comment on the helicopter strike.”
Mohamed Mahmud Burale told AP that at least four civilians were killed on Monday evening [January 8th] in Hayi, including his four-year-old son.
AP China Daily cited a US military official who said that “Tuesday’s strike was probably carried out by Ethiopia since the aircraft were identified as Russian-made Hind helicopter gunships like those used by the Ethiopian military.”
Ethiopia denied any responsibility, according to China Daily. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia and the US have been cooperating on intelligence, and that most of the information has come from the Americans. He also said the Ethiopians did not provide any intelligence that led to Monday’s airstrike.”
However, AP China Daily also referred to Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, who said at least three US airstrikes had been launched since Monday January 8th. Reports described al Qaeda operatives as the targets of the US strikes.
The local time of the incident is unknown.