A suspected drone strike has hit a car in southern Somalia and killed two fighters from the armed group al-Shabab, witnesses said.
The men were the only occupants of the vehicle and no one else was harmed, they said. The witnesses blamed the United States, which has carried out drone strikes in Somalia before, for the attack.
It was after afternoon prayers between 1:30pm and 2pm when I heard a loud bang. Just one big bang.
An al-Shabab member, who gave his name as Abu Mohamed, told the Associated Press news agency that one of those killed was al-Shabab’s top explosives expert, known as Anta.
AP reported that both of the men killed were senior members of the group.
Four witnesses at the scene confirmed the strike to Al Jazeera and said that both fighters killed were Somali. The rebels are known to have foreign fighters in their ranks.
Al-Shabab, a rebel group fighting Somalia’s Western-backed government, did not comment.
The witnesses said the strike happened near the town of Jilib, 114km north of al-Shabab’s former stronghold of Kismayu. Jilib is the most populous town in the horn of Africa nation’s Middle Juba region.
“It was after afternoon prayers between 1:30pm and 2pm when I heard a loud bang. Just one big bang,” a witness from Jilib told Al Jazeera.
“I came to the scene shortly after. I saw two dead bodies. Then al-Shabab fighters came to scene and took the bodies from the Suzuki vehicle. It was a drone strike.”
Earlier this month, US forces carried out a dawn-raid on an al-Shabab base in the town of Barawe but failed to capture their intended target after a gunbattle. One rebel fighter died in the firefight.
In September, al-Shabab launched an assault on a shopping mall in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya, which left at least 67 people dead.
Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa