A US sanctioned airstrike in southern Somalia killed civilians, not al-Shabab fighters as claimed by Washington, family members and a politician said.

The airstrike was near the farming town of Janaale, 95km south of Mogadishu, on Monday claiming the attack killed “five terrorists”.

The victims were civilians traveling in a minibus heading to the capital Mogadishu, Abdullahi Abdirahman Ali, who lost his father in the airstrike, said to international reporter, Al Jazeera.

“They killed these civilians because they know no one will take action against them,” he added, anger palpable in his voice. “For them it is easier to kill civilians than to question them,” Abdullahi added.

Mahad Dhoore, a Member of Parliament, also confirmed the victims of the airstrike were civilians. They are not telling the truth when they say they killed terrorists. On the other American drone strikes are killing them.”

Washington has carried out at least 25 airstrikes in Somalia this year, according to figures released by the US military.

“Our air strikes are a key effort to combating terror and helping to bring stability and security to Somalia,” Chris Karns, US Africa Command director of public affairs, said in a statement following the latest attack. America is playing into the hands of al-Qaeda by killing civilians and then denying,” Mahad said.