Somalia: Al-Shabab Commander Killed in Lower Shabelle Region, Minister Says

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09 May, 2017

An American soldier was killed in a special operations mission against the Somali extremist group al-Shabab, the first USA military casualty in the African country since the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident, the Pentagon said on Friday.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken", said U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement.

With an aim to topple Somalia's Western backed government and drive out African Union peacekeeping troops, Al Qaeda affliated group al Shabaaab have carried out frequent attack in Mogadishu.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Friday that during an advise-and-assist mission led by the Somali National Army, U.S. special operations troops unexpectedly came under fire.

Milliken's family says he was "a devoted father and son, a true professional and a wonderful husband".

The raid came a day after a USA service member was killed while supporting an operation by Somalia's military in the same area.

The servicemember may have been the first American to die in combat in Somalia since 1993, when casualties from the well-publicized "Black Hawk Down" incident prompted President Bill Clinton to pull USA troops out of the country.

A Somali intelligence official says USA forces killed at least six people during a raid on a building housing the al-Shabab extremist group's Andalus radio station Thursday night outside the capital, Mogadishu.

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The firefight comes several weeks after the Pentagon announced that President Donald Trump had approved expanded military operations in Somalia, authorizing unilateral US counter-terrorism ground and air strikes against al-Shabab.

According to one official, there are about 50 American special forces now working with African Union Mission in Somalia and local national commandos as part of a "train and advise mission", and the US military has been moving in and out of Somalia since previous year.

The terrorist group, which the Pentagon considers al-Qaida's third most unsafe affiliate, has increased operations against government forces and civilian targets since Mohamed declared war on al-Shabab last month.

The U.S. Africa Command said the deployment was for logistics training of Somalia's army. If it leaves before Somalia's security forces are capable, 'large portions of Somalia are at risk of returning to al-Shabaab control or potentially allowing ISIS to gain a stronger foothold, ' Commander General Waldhauser has said.

The random attack that took the Navy SEAL's life is all too common in Somalia, according to experts with Minnesota ties.

U.S. helicopters transported Somali forces to the compound, in what Davis described as a "Somali mission".

He was a senior chief special warfare operator from Falmouth, Maine, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

He first joined the Navy in 2002 and was assigned to an East Coast-based special warfare unit as a SEAL.


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