U.S. soldier killed in suspected al Shabab attack in Somalia

Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad

Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad

"They are truly all HEROES", he tweeted.

About 500 USA troops are deployed in Somalia.

That death was followed by an ugly confrontation between President Donald Trump, members of his staff and the widow of one of the soldiers killed.

Although one of the wounded Americans did not receive additional care after being treated in the field, the other three were medically evacuated for follow-up care. The US said its personnel provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance.

The official did not immediately know who had carried out the attack, but the USA is supporting Somali partners as they target Islamic al-Qaeda militants aligned with the Shabaab group.

Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad
Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad

Friday's incident marked the first time a US service member has died in action in Somalia since Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a senior chief petty officer, was killed in May of previous year in a firefight with al-Shabab militants. Al-Shabab has been blamed for the October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people. The U.S. estimates that al-Shabaab commands 4,000 to 6,000 active fighters, making it one of the terror group's largest affiliates. This isn't unusual, as the Mogadishu-based government tends to have very limited practical control outside of the capital city.

Al Shabaab fights to topple Somalia's western-backed central government and impose its a rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam's Sharia law. Al-Shabaab has ramped up its attacks recently, however; its attacks have led to more than 150 deaths in the last two months, including Ugandan and Kenyan soldiers.

The military did not say how many USA personnel were part of the operation.

A USA military official confirmed the attack in the country's south, about 50 kilometers (32 miles) north of the port city of Kismayo, killed one us troop and wounded four others.

The extent to which USA troops are assisting behind the scenes or fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with local troops has become a point of contention, not only in Somalia but also in other parts of the world where US forces are helping fight extremist groups by backing proxy forces. Four others were wounded as well during an ambush attack conducted by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab in the southwestern part of the country.

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