MOGADISHU: Hoping to capture a high-profile target, US special forces hopped off helicopters a couple of miles from an al-Shabab-controlled town, slipped through the dark and then got into a fierce firefight that reportedly killed more than 10 Islamic extremists.
A Somali intelligence official said that the person they wanted to get was apparently killed during the fight.
“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.
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 role and provided the helicopter transportation for the mission, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The US forces 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, said other US officials on Wednesday.
Roughly 50 US special operations troops have been operating in Somalia on a rotational basis for the last few years.
The raid came only three days after the US carried out an air strike on an al-Shabab training camp that the Pentagon said killed about 150 of its members.
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 said.
Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, a spokesman for al-Shabab, told a militant-run online radio that the foreign forces used two helicopters and that one militant was killed.