US special forces seeking ‘high-profile target’ kill 10 Al-Shabab extremists during nighttime helicopter raid in Somalia
- Islamic fighters were killed during firefight in Al-Shabab-controlled town of Awdhegle; there were no US casualties
- Pentagon says US forces were serving in advisory role and provided Somali forces with helicopters for the mission
- Nighttime raid comes three days after 150 Al-Shabab fighters were killed in US drone strike
US special forces hunting for a high-profile target killed more than 10 Islamic extremists during a nighttime firefight near an Al-Shabab-controlled town in Somalia.
A Somali intelligence official said that the person they wanted to capture was apparently killed during the fierce battle.
‘It was a high-profile target, and chances of capture were challenged by a stiff resistance by militants guarding the house targeted by the special forces, which forced the commando to resort to the kill or capture method,’ the official said. He spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the matter.
Another Somali intelligence official provided a similar account. The exact target of the raid, if any, remains unclear.
The US forces were serving in an advisory capacity and provided the helicopter transportation for the mission, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The American commandos accompanied the Somali troops on the mission, but did not ‘go all the way to the objective,’ he said.
There were no US casualties, he said.
More than 10 militants were killed, confirmed other US officials Wednesday who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an operation that has not been announced publicly.
Roughly 50 US special operations troops have been operating in Somalia on a rotational basis since 2007.
The raid came only three days after the US carried out a drone strike on an Al-Shabab training camp that the Pentagon said killed about 150 of its members. Al Shabaab said the number was inflated.
These are some of the most aggressive military actions in Somalia since a US military intervention in the early 1990s during a famine culminated in the so-called Black Hawk Down battle, with heavy US losses.
For its part, Al-Shabab said its fighters had foiled the overnight attack on Awdhegle town in southern Somalia, and that the raiders retreated with casualties.
Residents of Awdhegle described bullet-pockmarked walls blackened from explosions after the attack.
Al-Shabab fighters cordoned off the area in the morning and made arrests of people suspected to be spies, a resident in the town told AP by phone. He refused to be identified, fearing reprisal by militants.
Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman told Reuters the two helicopters landed on the banks of the River Shabelle and commandos from the aircraft advanced on the base.
‘They were masked and spoke foreign languages which our fighters could not understand,’ Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab told Reuters. ‘We do not
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