A member of the United States military was killed Thursday by al-Shabaab militants near Barii, about 40 miles west of Mogadishu. It was believed to be the first such death of an American in Somalia since 1993.
The U.S. Africa Command said in a statement that the death occurred as U.S. forces were assisting with an operation alongside the Somali National Army.
“U.S. forces are assisting partner forces to counter al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America,” the statement said.
American media outlets say the Pentagon confirmed the death of one Navy Seal. Two other U.S. service members were wounded during the raid.
The U.S. formally announced last month that American military personnel were operating in Somalia. During a press briefing in Djibouti two weeks ago, the head of AFRICOM, General Thomas Waldhauser, said that the “enhanced authorities” of American forces had not yet been exercised as U.S. partners developed what he called a strong sense of the “common operating picture on the battlefield.”
“We continue to develop intelligence and develop targets. And when we have the opportunity, we will use those,” Waldhauser said during the April 23 briefing, which came during a visit to Camp Lemonnier and a meeting between U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and President Ismail Omar Guelleh.
Waldhauser stressed the importance of new leadership in Somalia under President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. “We’re working very hard to develop the intelligence, and work with also the political framework that we now have in Somalia with the new president, which is what we did not have before,” he said. “We have talked with him. We are working with him. He’s supportive of our efforts.”