First US casualties in Somalia since 1993 ‘Black Hawk Down’ disaster

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A US serviceman was killed and two were wounded in a clash with al Shabaab militants in Somalia, the US military said on Friday, in what appeared to be the first American casualties in the country since the 1993 ‘Black Hawk Down’ disaster.

The White House has granted the US military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, the latest sign President Donald Trump is increasing US military engagement in the region.

US Africa Command said the serviceman was killed by small arms fire on Thursday while US forces were advising and assisting a Somali National Army operation in Barii about 60 km west of Mogadishu.

“Although US forces are not engaged in direct action (in Somalia), advise and assist missions are inherently dangerous,” said Robyn Mack, a spokeswoman at the US military’s Africa Command.

US Africa Command said US personnel were working alongside members of the Somali military.

In the ‘Black Hawk Down’ incident, 18 US soldiers were killed after Somali militia shot down two US helicopters in the capital of Mogadishu.

In Friday’s incident, US troops were hunting an al Shabaab commander near the Shabelle river alongside Somali special forces, a Mogadishu-based security source told Reuters. There were no Somali casualties.

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