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US Navy SEAL killed in raid on Somalia's al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab have launched numerous attacks in Somalia's capital [AFP-file photo]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2017

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The US lost its first troop in Somalia since 1993 when a raid on an al-Shabaab compound resulted in one dead and three injured American special forces' personnel.

The US has lost its first soldier in fighting in Somalia since the infamous Black Hawk Down incident 24-years-ago, with the military reporting a military death this in the war-torn East African country.

The US' Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the soldier was killed in fighting with al-Shabaab militants on Thursday close to the capital Mogadishu.

It is believed the soldier was a US Navy SEAL while two other Americans were injured in the raid on an al-Shabaab compound.

"One US service member was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab near Barii, Somalia, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometres) west of Mogadishu," AFRICOM said in a statement.

It comes after the US announced it was sending "a few dozen troops" to Somalia help train and equip Somalia troops to fight Shabaab militants.

US special forces have been deployed in Somalia for years, while Washington has carried out countless drone strikes on Shabaab targets.

The death on Thursday appears to be the US' first military loss in Somalia since 1993, when 18 American servicemen died in what is called the Battle of Mogadishu.

This was portrayed in the 2002 Hollywood blockbuster Black Hawk Down

The battle saw two American Black Hawk helicopters shot down, sparking a desperate rescue mission that resulted in hundreds of deaths, including many civilians and the US personnel.

"We do not believe there has been a case where a US service member has been killed in combat action in Somalia since the incident there in 1993," Mack told AFP.

AFRICOM said the US forces in the raid were on an "advise-and-assist mission alongside members of the Somali National Army".

Two helicopters were involved in the raid, firing missiles before landing to unload soldiers, after which a heavy firefight broke out, Moalim Muhidin, a local source told AFP.

Abdirisak Farah, a Somali military officer, said there were casualties on both sides, with six Shabaab fighters killed.

Shabaab claimed credit for killing the US soldier and said it repelled the raid.

"An air landing operation by US Special Forces was thwarted in Lower Shabelle province and a number of their soldiers were killed and wounded," the group said, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, described the raid as a "Somali mission" against a Shabaab compound housing individuals linked to attacks on Somali and US forces.

He said the US team had been "maintaining a distance back" from the Somali troops when it came under fire.

Davis did not identify the US personnel in the team. But he said they were operating "under the same authorities" in place since 2013, suggesting they were US special operations commandos.

"We do have an enduring presence of about 50 US special operations that work in Somalia doing this advise-and-assist mission to the SNA," he said.

Washington has insisted that Shabaab poses a grave threat to US security, and has also launched attacks on nearby Yemen where al-Qaeda have established a stronghold.

A US special forces raid was launched weeks after President Donald Trump took office on a suspected al-Qaeda base in Yemen led to the death of one American soldier and up to 25 civilians.

Somalia has been ravaged by decades of fighting allowing the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab group to take over large parts of the country.

An African-led force has helped Somalia push back the militants, but they still pose a potent threat to the country which is only just beginning to establish a stable government in the capital.


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