Five civilians have been shot dead in an alleged raid involving US forces in southern Somalia, elders said Thursday.
Ali Mohamed Moalin, a traditional elder close to Afgoye in Lower Shabelle where the alleged raid took place on Wednesday night, said "two military helicopters" were involved as well as "some foreign special forces".
District police officer Ibrahim Abdi confirmed the military operation saying it was targeting Islamic militants of the al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab group.
"There was a raid by Somali special forces near Afgoye last night, they were targeting Al-Shabaab, but we have been informed about civilian casualties. The security forces are investigating the reports," he said.
Somali commandos often launch operations side-by-side with the American forces that train them. Air assaults and missile strikes have increased in recent months, and with them allegations of civilian casualties.
"There are five dead bodies of innocent farmers who have been killed by the special forces last night," said Moalin.
"Several other people were wounded, and three others taken alive in the helicopters," he said, a claim that could not be immediately verified.
"The Somali government must ask questions about this brutal raid on innocent farmers who were sleeping when they were killed," said Shamey Yusuf, another elder.
The US Africa Command said it was looking into the allegation of civilian deaths.
The five bodies were taken to a hospital in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday afternoon.