"It was a deliberate, precise strike against a known terrorist and his associates," one U.S. military official said in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the record.
The targets were believed staying in building known to be used regularly by terrorist suspects, he said. Last year, the U.S. shelled suspected al Qaeda targets in Somalia, using gunfire from a U.S. Navy ship offshore.
In Dobley, some four miles from the Kenyan border, Fatuma Abdullahi told The Associated Press she woke to a "loud and a big bang and when we came out we found our neighbor's house completely obliterated as if no house existed here.
"We are taking shelter under trees. Three planes were flying over our heads."
Remnants of an Islamic force that had once ruled much of southern Somalia took over Dobley last week.
A police officer in Dobley who gave only his first name, Siyad, because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the eight wounded were hit by shrapnel. An aid worker in Dobley said up to six people were still trapped in the rubble by midday. It was not clear if these victims were included in the police officer's tally.
"A minimum of two bombs were dropped," the aid worker, who asked that his name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told the AP by telephone. "Between four and six people are in the rubble."
Clan elder Ahmed Nur Dalab said a senior Islamic official, Hassan Turki, was in town Sunday to mediate between his fighters and a militia loyal to the government. Turki's forces took over Dobley last week.
In early 2007, Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies drove out a radical Islamic group to which Turki is allied that had taken over much of southern Somalia. The Islamic forces have fought to regain power.
Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
The current government, led by President Abdullahi Yusuf, was formed in 2004 with the support of the U.N., but has struggled to assert any real control.
On Monday, a rights group said all sides in Somalia's long-running conflict are united in at least one goal - trying to curtail independent media by "killing, arresting and threatening" reporters.
The report by London-based Amnesty International was released a day after government raids shut down three independent radio stations in Mogadishu. The soldiers forced the stations off the air, arrested a journalist and seized equipment.
"The troops came in, took our equipment and arrested our boss without explanation. We do not know why they are targeting us," Mohamed Abdullahi, a Shabelle radio staff member, told the AP. Shabelle's director, Muqtar Mohamed Hirabe, was arrested.
At least nine journalists have been killed since February 2007 and death threats and arrests have forced at least 50 others to seek refuge in neighboring countries, Amnesty said.