WASHINGTON/MOGADISHU A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed and two troops wounded in a clash with al Shabaab militants in Somalia, U.S. officials said on Friday, in what appeared to be the first U.S. combat death in the country since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” disaster.
The White House has granted the U.S. military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, the latest sign President Donald Trump is increasing U.S. military engagement in the region.
U.S. Africa Command said a service member was killed by small arms fire on Thursday while U.S. forces were advising and assisting a Somali National Army operation in Barii about 40 miles (60 km) west of Mogadishu. They did not give further details on the identities of any of the three casualties.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man who was killed was a U.S. Navy SEAL. It was not immediately clear whether the wounded U.S. forces were also from the elite U.S. military organization.
“Although U.S. forces are not engaged in direct action (in Somalia), advise and assist missions are inherently dangerous,” said Robyn Mack, a spokeswoman at the U.S. military’s Africa Command.
U.S. Africa Command said U.S. personnel were working alongside members of the Somali military.
“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,” it said in a statement.
In Friday’s incident, U.S. troops were hunting an al Shabaab commander near the Shabelle river alongside Somali special forces, a Mogadishu-based security source told Reuters. There were no Somali casualties.
A spokesman for al Shabaab, which wants to overthrow the weak Western-backed Somali government and impose its own…