MOGADISHU — A US military member was killed on Thursday and at least two others wounded during an operation against Al Shabaab west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
The US troops were attacked while on a mission advising Somali national army forces in Awdhegle town, which is situated about 64 km west of the Somali capital, US defense officials said.
Somali military official Tohow Mohamed told The Messenger Africa that two US helicopters had dropped soldiers in Mubarak neighborhood in an attempt to target Al Shabaab bases.
“Heavy exchanges of gunfire could be heard shortly after the helicopters dropped the soldiers,” Mohamed added.
US media outlets confirmed that the slain serviceman belonged to the elite Navy SEALs unit, which has taken part in previous raids in Somalia as well as famous raids elsewhere such as the attack that killed Osama bin-Laden in 2011.
Voice of America cited an unnamed official as saying that three other SEALs were also wounded, along with an interpreter, owing to small arms fire.
Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab said that its fighters had inflicted heavy losses upon the US forces in villages of the Lower Shabelle region, though there was no independent confirmation of any other casualties.
He added that the militants had captured some gear left behind by the US troops during the clash. Photos released by the group showed some medical supplies, a damaged pair of goggles, a smart phone, among other items.
The SEALs were part of an “advise-and-assist mission” and the exact place of the clash was at Barii, about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, the capital, according to a statement from the United States Africa Command.
The operation comes days after General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander for the US Africa Command, visited Somalia’s president to discuss stepping up attacks against Al Shabaab.
Waldhauser has vowed to help the Somali military in its fight against the militant group, recently sending dozens of “logisticians” to help the Somali troops in supply operations, while also embedding counter-insurgency advisors.