A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed Thursday fighting terror group Al-Shabaab — Al Qaeda’s third-largest affiliate — in Somalia, U.S. officials told Fox News.
It appeared to be the first combat death of a U.S. service member in Somalia since 1993, U.S. Africa Command spokesman Patrick Barnes said.
Two other U.S. special operations personnel were wounded in the attack in Somalia, one official said; however, the Pentagon would not disclose the extent of the injuries due to privacy concerns.
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"U.S. forces were conducting an advise and assist mission alongside members of the Somali National Army" near Bari, about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, U.S. Africa Command added.
A Somali intelligence official confirmed the U.S. military operation to The Associated Press, saying U.S. forces in helicopters raided an Al-Shabaab hideout near the Somali capital on Thursday night and engaged with fighters.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the helicopters dropped soldiers near Dar es Salaam village in an attempt to capture or kill extremists in the area.
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The official said the fighters mounted a stiff resistance against the soldiers.
Al-Shabaab "presents a threat to Americans and American interests," the U.S. Africa Command statement said.
Somalia’s new Somali-American president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, last month declared a new offensive against Al-Shabaab, which is based in Somalia but has claimed responsibility for major attacks elsewhere in East Africa.
In late March, the White House approved a Pentagon request to conduct offensive operations against Al-Shabaab in Somalia. This meant drone strikes and raids were given the green light to happen outside of self-defense, which was the previous policy under the Obama administration.
The Department of Homeland Security in March banned electronics larger than mobile phones on flights from some Muslim nations to the U.S. a year after Al-Shabaab attempted to bring down an airliner in Somalia using a bomb hidden inside a laptop.
The extremist group, which was chased out of Mogadishu years ago, but continues to carry out deadly attacks there, has vowed to step up the violence in response to the moves by Trump and Mohamed.
Pressure is growing on Somalia’s military to assume full security for the country as the 22,000-strong African Union multinational force that has been supporting the fragile central government plans to leave by the end of 2020.
Fighters linked to ISIS are a relatively new and growing challenge in the north of the country, which has seen a quarter century of chaos since dictator Siad Barre fell in 1991.
The United States pulled out of Somalia after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews