A U.S. operations soldier was killed and four wounded in an attack Friday by al-Shabab extremists in Somalia. The injured have been treated and discharged to a U.S.embassy medical team in Kenya, the U.S. Africa command said Saturday.
One member of a “partner force” was also wounded in the attack, the military said.
The Africa command said the four U.S. service members were now awaiting transport “for additional medical evaluation.”
The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which is based in Somalia and controls parts of the country’s rural south and central regions, claimed responsibility for the attack.
This was the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death in Africa since four U.S. service members were killed in a militant ambush in the West African nation of Niger in October. Another U.S. service member in Somalia was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles west of Mogadishu.
The military said the U.S. service members were part of a 800-member force of Somalia and Kenya troops that came under came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland, about 200 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu. U.S. forces provided “advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission.” the U.S. military said. The U.S. military said its personnel had provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission.
The U.S. troops are in Somalia as part of America’s counterterror operations in Africa. The joint operation was aimed at clearing al-Shabab from contested areas. The al-Shabab group was blamed for the truck bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people and raised concerns about al-Shabab’s ability to build ever-larger explosives.
In early 2017, President Trump approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, leading to an increase in U.S. military personnel to more than 500 and the launch of dozens of drone strikes. The U.S. had pulled out of the Horn of Africa nation after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.
Contributing: Associated Press