Sunday, May 7, 2017

Navy SEAL killed in Somalia operation against al-Shabaab

The Pentagon on Saturday named the navy Seal who was killed in Somalia on Friday. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, a native of Falmouth, Maine, was 38 years old.

In a statement, the defense department said Milliken had been killed “during an operation against al-Shabaab … in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu … in support of a Somali National Army-led operation with US Africa Command”.

On Friday, US Africa Command said two service members had also been wounded in the operation, in which US troops came under fire after US aircraft delivered Somali forces to the target area. The identities and assignments of the wounded service members were not immediately released. Milliken had been “assigned to an east coast-based special warfare unit”, the Pentagon said.

Milliken is the first US serviceman to die in Somalia since 1993, when American soldiers fought militia groups in the capital city, a story retold in a book and a film, both titled Black Hawk Down.

A source based in Mogadishu told Reuters Friday’s operation had been against an al-Shabaab commander near the Shabelle river. There were no Somali casualties, the source said.

The White House and Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, have mounted a new offensive against al-Shabaab, an Islamist group allied with al-Qaida and based in the African country.

Last month, the US said it was sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment there in about two decades. In recent years, the US has sent a small number of special operations forces and counter-terrorism advisers to Somalia and conducted a number of airstrikes.

Aid community sources in Somalia, which is facing severe drought, have expressed concern over the likely effects of increased operations.

“Increased belligerence from some international and national actors is not going to help us,” Peter de Clercq, the United Nations’ deputy special representative of the secretary-general in Somalia, told the Guardian last month.

“If things deteriorate as a result of military effort, that will be manmade. We have argued very strongly that this is not the time for military action.”

Milliken is the second navy Seal to die in an operation mounted under the Trump presidency. In January, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens was killed during a raid on a suspected al-Qaida base in Yemen. More than 20 civilians were killed in the raid, including an eight-year-old girl who held US citizenship.

Article from The Guardian, 6 May 2017

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