Five civilians and three al Shabaab militants were killed in a suspected drone attack in central Somalia, according to two local officials on Friday, after the fighters sought cover in a home compound with a family.
There were conflicting stories of what happened, with Somalia's state TV saying that a landmine that the militants had hidden in a house in the village of El-Lahelay in the Galgadud state killed a lady and two children.
According to the state news agency SONNA, Olol Ali Guled, the alleged head of the organisation in Galgadud, and two other top leaders of the al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab were among the three militants who were killed.
Without specifying the deployment of a drone or the murder of the family, SONNA stated that they were killed on Wednesday night during a "special operation".
The Somali government's year-long onslaught against al Shabaab has been supported by the U.S. military's Africa Command (AFRICOM), which has confirmed the deaths of three militants and the evacuation of injured civilians.
"Unfortunately, civilians were injured and killed in the vicinity of the operation," according to AFRICOM.
"US forces were not on the ground for the operation and did not conduct air strikes during or in support of it."
Local leader Farah Aden told Reuters by phone that a drone had followed the militants to a house in El-Lahelay belonging to one of their relatives.
"They were sitting outside the house, eating meat and rice. The drone attacked them while they ate the meat.
"The house was not hit, and no civilians were targeted. The civilians were hit by shrapnel from the bomb," Aden explained.
Last year, Somalia's interior minister stated that the military was deploying Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 drones in their war against al Shabaab, which had driven the terrorists out of huge swaths of territory in the country's centre.