An airstrike in northern Somalia killed as many as 22 troops overnight, local officials said Wednesday, and one region said the United States had been duped into attacking its troops.
Galmudug’s security minister, Osman Issa, said 22 of his region’s soldiers were killed in the strike, adding that the rival neighboring region of Puntland had requested it on the pretext that the men were al-Shabab militants.
“Puntland misinformed the United States and, thus, our forces were bombed,” Issa said.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters that the United States had carried out a “self-defense airstrike” after Somali troops faced fire from militants as they tried to stop an explosives-making network.
Capt. Jeff Davis said that nine al-Shabab militants were killed in the strike but that the Pentagon was looking into reports that the strike could have killed others.
A Puntland police officer said the attack killed “more than a dozen” members of al-Shabab, which is waging an insurgency against Somalia’s Western-backed government and regional authorities.
Galmudug and Puntland have often clashed over territory.
The United States has carried out many airstrikes in Somalia, usually against al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.
An airstrike hit a residential building in eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing 13 civilians, an Afghan official said.
Most airstrikes in Afghanistan are carried out by the United States, and though Afghanistan has its own warplanes, another Afghan official said it had not carried out any strikes in the area.
The U.S. military said it had conducted a “counterterrorism airstrike” in the area and was investigating reports of Afghan casualties.
Esmatullah Shinwari, a lawmaker from the volatile eastern province of Nangahar, said a crowd had gathered at the house in Achin district, near the border with Pakistan, to welcome home a tribal leader returning from the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. At least 12 people were wounded, Shinwari said.
A spokesman for the provincial police chief said the airstrike targeted loyalists of the Islamic State militant group.
— Associated Press
Norwegian court says it cannot guarantee Snowden safe travel: A Norwegian appeals court dismissed a lawsuit seeking a legal guarantee to allow Edward Snowden to travel to Norway without risk of U.S. extradition. The court upheld a lower-court ruling that it cannot issue such a guarantee for someone who isn’t present in Norway. An Oslo firm filed the suit on behalf of the former National Security Agency contractor and the Norwegian chapter of the literary group PEN, which had invited Snowden to receive its Ossietzky Prize. Snowden, who is in Russia, faces U.S. charges that could land him in prison for leaking details of a secret eavesdropping program.
5 militant suspects held in Spain, Belgium, Germany: Police in Spain, Belgium and Germany arrested five people suspected of forming a cell that spread propaganda and sought to recruit militants for the Islamic State, officials said. The Spanish Interior Ministry said the cell — four Spaniards and one Moroccan — posed “a grave, concrete . . . threat to security in Europe.” It said one suspect was arrested in Brussels and another in Wuppertal, Germany. Two arrests took place in the Spanish city of Barcelona and one in the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla.
Egypt sentences 40 Islamist State suspects: An Egyptian court sentenced 40 people to life in prison over alleged ties to the Islamic State. The court in Zagazig also convicted the defendants of helping recruit youths to join the extremist group in Syria and Iraq and plotting attacks against police and Christians. Twenty of the suspects were sentenced in absentia. Prosecutors say the group’s ringleaders were arrested at Cairo’s airport on their way to Syria through Turkey.
Peru’s ex-spy chief sentenced in forced disappearances: Former Peruvian spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the forced disappearance of a professor and two students in 1993. Montesinos is already serving long sentences for crimes against humanity and arms trafficking. But activists say the latest ruling is significant because it is the first time a Peruvian court has recognized that the government of former president Alberto Fujimori burned the bodies of some victims during its decade-long crackdown on dissent.
— From news services