Navy SEAL Team Reportedly Attacks Militants On Somali Coast

Oct 5, 2013
Originally published on October 5, 2013 5:50 pm

(Updated 8:50 p.m. ET)

A force that struck foreign fighters in Somalia early Saturday included members of a U.S. Navy SEAL team, according to reports. The team targeted a senior leader of the militant group al-Shabab, but there were conflicting reports about that man's fate.

The New York Times reported Saturday night:

"The unidentified Shabab leader is believed to have been killed in the firefight, but the SEAL team was forced to withdraw before that could be confirmed, a senior American security official said."

The Associated Press however, citing an unnamed U.S. official Saturday night, reported that the SEALS "did not get their target."

Earlier, the AP reported: "The strike was carried out in the town of Barawe in the hours before morning prayers against what one official said were 'high-profile' targets."

The attack comes two weeks after an attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall that left dozens dead. Al-Shabab claimed credit for that violence, which it called retribution for Kenya's involvement in Somalia's internal struggles.

"The SEAL team stealthily approached the beachfront house by sea, seizing the unidentified target in a predawn firefight that was the most significant raid by American troops on Somali soil since commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Qaeda mastermind, near the same town four years ago," The Times reports.

After the assault began, the fighting lasted more than an hour, The Times says, with helicopters eventually taking part.

A militant fighter tells the AP that after news of the attack spread, an attempt was made to capture a "foreign" soldier at the house; that effort failed, he said. He added that international troops had fought their way into the two-story building.

"The attack was carried out by the American forces and the Somali government was pre-informed about the attack," a Somali official tells The Times.

Two Somali intelligence officials confirmed the attack to the AP; one of them said it "was carried out by an international military," the agency says.

In addition to coming two weeks after the deadly Nairobi mall standoff, Saturday's raid comes roughly 20 years after the Battle of Mogadishu, which is often known by the shorthand name Black Hawk Down, after the book and film it inspired. That event, and its lasting impact, is the subject of a report on today's All Things Considered.

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