A USA special operations soldier was killed in Somalia on Friday and four other us service members were wounded, marking the first time an American has died in action in Africa since four USA soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger late past year. The U.S. provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission, the statement said.
Four other US soldiers and a Somali soldier were wounded in what appears to have been an ambush near the town of Jamaame, US defence officials added. One of the wounded US service members received sufficient medical care in the field, and the other three were medically evacuated for additional treatment.
The Pentagon has carefully monitored the spread of radical Islamic jihad across Africa but insisted that American troops are there to train and partner with local forces, not necessarily to fight.
About 500 US troops are deployed in Somalia. The group was blamed for a truck bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people and raised concerns about its ability to build larger explosives.
The U.S. 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.
Al-Shabab, linked to al-Qaida, seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.
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The mission's objectives were to "clear Shabaab from contested areas, liberate villages from Shabaab control and establish a permanent combat outpost created to increase the span of federal government of Somalia security and governance", Africa Command said. Officials worry the extremist group is in the midst of a resurgence after losing much of the territory it once held in Somalia and many of its fighters in the last several years.
The U.S. forces were accompanying Somali and other African forces at the time, helping to set up an outpost to clear the area of al-Shabab fighters.
This is the second USA military fatality in Somalia in the previous year.
US military operations in Africa have come under greater scrutiny since an October 4 ambush by Islamic State militants in the West African country of Niger left four USA soldiers dead.