A drone strike just outside the Somali capital killed more than 22 people and injured 21, including many children, a witness and a relative of the victims told The Washington Post. Two security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the attack was carried out by a Turkish drone.

The reports are likely to fuel concerns that the proliferation of drones is leading to a huge increase in civilian casualties for which there is little accountability.

Witness Daud Hassan Mohamed said the strike hit a house in an agricultural area the evening after Iftar, the meal at which Muslims fasting for the holy month of Ramadan break their day-long fast.

“There was an airstrike targeting the victims. But when people started rushing to the scene to rescue them, the same people were hit by more airstrikes,” he said. “What happened was a massacre.”

The victims included about 15 children and several women, he said. The wounded were being treated at Madina Hospital in Mogadishu, he said. Doctors in Madina were not immediately available for comment.

Mohamed said the attack hit a house in an area called Baqdaad, or “Baghdad,” about seven kilometers from the town of Alifow, northeast of Mogadishu. There was no fighting in the area immediately before the attack, although there had been clashes the previous day in a nearby village between Somali paramilitary forces and Islamist insurgents called al-Shabab, he said.

Al-Shabab fighters typically do not openly travel to government-controlled areas such as Mogadishu to seek medical treatment, otherwise they would be arrested.

Turkey regularly carries out drone strikes in Somalia in support of Somali government forces. Turkey is a close ally of Mogadishu, a major donor, has trained Somalia’s Gorgor or “Eagle” commandos and operates the airport and port under commercial contracts. Mogadishu is home to Türkiye’s largest military base abroad.

The Turkish government and Somalia’s information minister did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An Africa Command spokeswoman said the U.S. had not carried out an attack in the area.

Abdulkadir Mayow, a relative of several victims, spoke to The Post from Madina Hospital. The 37-year-old gave an incomplete list of the dead and injured, including four dead women and eight injured women. Among the seriously injured were five children and two women who were “clinging to their lives” in the hospital, he said. Among the wounded was a four-year-old girl, the only survivor of her family, he added.

The strike hit families from the Gorgaarte subclan who lived in the fields after fleeing fighting about three years ago, he said. His description of the location, time and circumstances of the attack – based on accounts from the wounded – including multiple attacks on those rushing to the scene, was consistent with the testimony of witnesses.

“I was born and raised in the area where the strike took place but was in Mogadishu at the time of the strike. When I came to know what had happened and knew that the victims were on their way to Madina Hospital, I rushed here,” he said. “Nothing justified the indiscriminate killing that took place last night. … They have endured droughts, floods, conflicts and now this.”

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