One US Soldier Killed, Four Wounded in Somalia Fight Against al-Shabaab

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"We also injured four USA soldiers", Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters on late Friday.

Four other United States service members were wounded when the team came under attack by mortars and small arms from unknown insurgent forces in the area.

"This area is called Sanguni, we came here to carry out a special operation created to liberate this area that is still under the control of al-Shabab fighters", Lt. Col. Abdi Ibrahim with the Somali armed forces said Friday.

One of the wounded USA service members received sufficient medical care in the field, and the other three were medically evacuated for additional treatment.

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A large force consisting of about 800 SNSF and KDF service members was conducting a multiday operation nearly 220 miles southwest of Mogadishu when the attack occurred.

The Somali government is dedicated to restoring peace and stability to the Somali people, and the US supports those efforts, Africom officials said in the statement, noting that this mission was specifically created to increase the government's ability to provide vital services to innocent civilians living under al-Shabab's rule. The operation aimed to clear the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab from contested areas.

The death is the first USA combat death in Africa since an ambush previous year by ISIS-aligned fighters in Niger left four US soldiers dead and prompted questions over whether American troops in the region had proper support.

As noted by the New York Times, "in the past two months, Shabab militants have claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed more than 150 people, including Kenyan soldiers stationed at a remote desert outpost and beachcombers in Mogadishu".

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Friday's incident marked the first time a USA service member has died in action in Somalia since Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a senior chief petty officer, was killed in May of past year in a firefight with al-Shabab militants.

But President Donald Trump in early 2017 approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, leading to an increase in us military personnel to more than 500 and the launch of dozens of drone strikes. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda affiliate operating to overthrow the Somalian government, and it took credit for the attack. Names of the soldiers were not immediately released, while next of kin were notified.

The October attack in Niger raised questions in Washington about the USA military presence across Africa as the Trump administration focuses counterterror efforts on a range of groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area south of Mogadishu, Somalia, on February 17, 2011. A Pentagon investigation of the incident produced a highly critical report.

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The U.S. team was backed up by armed surveillance aircraft, the officials said.