In the early dark of Saturday, a US Navy SEAL strike in southern Somalia failed to obtain the intended target, Associated Press reports. The objective, an unidentified leader of the militant group al-Shabaab, is connected to the late September mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
US military officials, speaking to AP, have confirmed the raids but released little other information so far and the Pentagon apparently declined to comment. The raid in Barawe, a town on the southern Somali coast about 150 miles south of Mogadishu, hit before morning prayers and had as its intended, “high-profile,” targets.
No Americans were killed in the strike. Early reports on the raid indicated the al-Shabaab leader may have been killed in raid gunfire but little has surfaced since to confirm that, and the team is said to have been forced to withdraw before his status could be verified. Confusion also surfaced about what nations contributed fighters to conduct the attack in the small fishing town. The firefight lasted for more than an hour, drawing on aerial support from helicopters. A Somali government official says that his government, “was pre-informed about the attack.”
This same town was the scene of a SEAL raid four years ago in which a high value al-Qa’ida operative named Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the mall attack two weeks ago in which over 60 people were killed. The group has committed to other violence against neighboring Kenya which placed troops in Somalia two years ago in an effort to thwart al-Shabaab intentions to enforce strict Islamic law in the tormented nation.
Since 2011, the group has mostly withdrawn from Mogadishu, finding refuge in towns like Barawe. The New York Times records a US security official as stating that the raid, “was planned a week and a half ago,” confirming that it was in response to the violence in Nairobi.
A spokesman for al-Shabaab reported that one of its members was killed in the raid but says the militants beat back the SEALs.[Image via CIA World Factbook and YouTube.]