One American special operations soldier was killed and four were wounded in a firefight with al-Shabaab terrorists in southwestern Somalia on Friday.
The combat occurred as American forces and Somali troops at a small outpost came under mortar and gunfire, the New York Times reports, according to three Department of Defense officials. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda affiliate operating to overthrow the Somalian government, and it took credit for the attack. In addition, the U.S. had armed surveillance aircraft overhead.
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The attack has also been confirmed by a U.S. official who spoke to Reuters. The SITE Intelligence Group also found a post online in which al-Shabaab described a "fierce attack."
The U.S. has about 500 troops in Somalia, mostly in Special Operations. The last time an American soldier in Somalia was killed was 13 months ago, when a member of the Navy SEALs was killed in an attack by al Shabaab on U.S. and Somali forces.
Four american soldiers in Niger were also killed in October following an ambush by Islamic terrorists associated with an Islamic State affiliate in north Africa.
Al-Shabaab has carried out terror campaigns in Africa for years, notably the 2013 attack in a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed at least 67. Some of al-Shabaab’s top leaders have been killed in U.S. drone strikes, but its operations have continued in Somalia despite the resistance.
The U.S. Africa Command reported killing 27 al-Shabaab terrorists Saturday, and in 2014 the U.S. said it killed the group’s leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in a drone strike. Al-Shabaab has ramped up its attacks recently, however; its attacks have led to more than 150 deaths in the last two months, including Ugandan and Kenyan soldiers.
The Times has also reported that the Defense Department is looking to reduce its involvement in Africa. The planned cuts could reduce the special forces in Africa by about half in the next three years.
Al-Shabaab has lost a great deal of its former territory in recent years, but it still carries out operations and has some rural holdings.