US military member killed in Somalia, 1st death since 1993

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A U.S. service member has been killed in Somalia during an operation against the extremist group al-Shabab – the first U.S. combat death there in more than two decades – as the United States steps up its fight against the al-Qaida-linked organization in a country that remains largely chaos.

"We do not believe there has been a case where a U.S. service member has been killed in combat action in Somalia since the incident there in 1993," U.S. Africa Command spokesman Patrick Barnes said today. The United States pulled out of Somalia after that incident in which two helicopters were shot down in the capital, Mogadishu, and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.

In a statement, the U.S. Africa Command said the service member was killed Thursday during the operation about 40 miles west of Mogadishu. Two other service members were wounded, the Pentagon said.

A Somali intelligence official said U.S. forces killed at least six people during the raid on a building housing al-Shabab's Andalus radio station at a farm near Dare Salaam village. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the dead included al-Shabab journalists.

The deputy governor of Lower Shabelle region, Omar Mohamud Elmi, told The Associated Press another goal of the raid was to "surgically target" senior al-Shabab members hiding in the area. He acknowledged "casualties on our side" but said the extremist group lost far more people. He did not give details.

The U.S. special operations troops came under fire after U.S. aircraft delivered Somali forces to the target area, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, told reporters. He said the U.S. troops were "a distance back" from the compound which had been associated with attacks on nearby facilities used by the U.S. and Somali partners.

Al-Shabab via its Shahada News Agency claimed it had thwarted "an air landing operation by U.S. special forces," with a number of them killed or wounded, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

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