U.S. Soldier Killed In Somalia
USA — June 9, 2018
One U.S. special operations soldier was killed in southwestern Somalia on Friday, and four others were wounded when their team came under attack from insurgents, Defense Department officials said - casualties that are likely to put renewed scrutiny on the nation's counterterror operations in Africa.
According to the U.S. Africa Command, U.S. service members were with 800 local Somali and Kenyan forces in an operation aimed at clearing al-Shabab, a terrorist organization, from villages and establishing a permanent combat outpost in the area of Jubaland. "The U.S. provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission," according to a statement from the command. At around 2.45 p.m. local time the US service members came under attack by "mortar and small-arms fire.”
One of the wounded U.S. service members received sufficient medical care in the field, and the other three were medically evacuated for additional treatment. One member of the "partner forces" was also injured but the statement did not indicate if the soldier was Somalian or Kenyan.
President Donald Trump used Twitter to pay tribute on Friday night, offering "thoughts and prayers" to the families of the soldier who was killed and those who were wounded, calling him and other wounded soldiers "HEROES.”
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of our serviceman who was killed and his fellow servicemen who were wounded in Somolia [sic]. They are truly all HEROES," Trump wrote on Twitter.
Al-Shabab claimed credit for the attack, the SITE Intelligence Group said in a statement on Friday.
The US has about 1,000 special operations personnel in Africa. The last killing of a US service member in Somalia was in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Mogadishu.
The US 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.
But Trump in early 2017 approved expanded military operations against al-Shabaab, leading to an increase in US military personnel to more than 500 and the launch of dozens of drone strikes. Al-Shabaab has been blamed for the October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people.
The US military and others have expressed concern about the 21,000-strong AU force's plan to withdraw by 2020 and hand over security responsibilities to Somali forces, saying the local troops are not ready to stand on their own.