MOGADISHU, Somalia — Four U.S. service members who were wounded in anthat killed one special operations soldier have been treated and discharged, the U.S. military said Saturday. A U.S. Africa Command statement said the four were in the care of the U.S. Embassy medical team in neighboring Kenya. They were awaiting transport “for additional medical evaluation.”
This was the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death in Africa since four U.S. service members were killed in a militant ambush in the West African nation of Niger in October.
The names of the soldiers have not been released while the U.S. notifies next of kin.
Friday’s attack in Jubaland is likely to put renewed scrutiny on America’s counterterror operations in Africa. U.S. troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire and one “partner force member” also was wounded in the attack about 217 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, the U.S. military said.
“Our strategy in East Africa is to build partner capacity to ensure that violent extremist organizations, who wish harm in the region, wish harm on the European continent, and ultimately wish to harm the United States, are contained,” General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander, U.S. Africa Command, said in a statement Saturday. “Simply put, we’re working to prevent atrocious acts before they come to fruition.”
The al Qaida-linked al-Shabaab extremist group, which is based in Somalia and controls parts of the country’s rural south and central regions, claimed responsibility. The group was blamed for the truck bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people and raised concerns about al-Shabaab’s ability to build ever-larger explosives.
Friday’s joint operation, part of a multi-day mission including about 800 Somali and Kenyan troops, aimed to clear al-Shabab from contested areas. The U.S. said its personnel had provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission.
President Donald Trump in early 2017 approved expanded military operations against al-Shabaab, leading to an increase in U.S. military personnel to more than 500 and the launch of dozens of drone strikes. 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.
Another U.S. service member in Somalia was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles west of Mogadishu.