An American soldier was wounded on Monday in Somalia after being targeted in a car bomb and mortar fire attack, the military said in a released statement. The attack was carried out by al-Shabaab terrorists.
“The U.S. service member is in stable condition and receiving treatment for injuries that are not assessed to be life-threatening,” Air Force Colonel Chris Karns, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), said in a statement. AFRICOM stated that at least one al-Shabaab terrorist was killed in the attack.
The attack also killed three Somali Special Forces soldiers and wounded another. The attack happened outside one of the Somali bases in the village of Janay Abdalla, some 37 miles from the port city of Kismayu, Jubbaland state’s administrative capital.
Mohamed Ahmed Sabriye, Jubbaland’s director of communications, told Reuters that “two soldiers of Danab (Special Forces) died and two others were wounded. A U.S. officer was seriously wounded.” He added that one of the wounded Somali SF troops later died of his wounds.
Karns said the U.S. and Somali troops were “conducting an advise, assist and accompany mission when al-Shabaab attacked using a vehicle employed as an improvised explosive device and [with] mortar fire.”
Al-Shabaab, as it frequently does, in a released statement grossly exaggerated the casualty numbers.
“We attacked U.S. and Somali forces called Danab in Janay Abdalla village with a suicide car bomb. We killed four U.S. officers and 16 Somali forces which they trained,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, said in the statement. “We also wounded 12 Somali soldiers. We also destroyed three U.S. armored vehicles,” he added.
Karns addressed the terror group’s disinformation propaganda:
“There are several false reports claiming the death of a U.S. soldier,” he said. “False claims consistently continue to be part of al-Shabaab’s playbook as they seek to weaponize information and employ traditional tools of the tradecraft of terror, to include truck, car, and roadside bombs. They are ambitious and look to expand their hate and violence in Somalia and beyond.”
Al-Shabaab, which has sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda, has fought for years to impose a strict version of Islam (Sharia) in Somalia. It is also launching attacks in neighboring countries to further its aims. In January, in one such attack in Kenya, one American service member and two American contractors were killed. The attack occurred on Manda Bay Airfield, which is approximately 150 miles south of the Kenya-Somalia border. Two other Defense Department members were also injured in the attack also some aircraft were destroyed.
“Al-Shabaab remains a dangerous enemy,” Karns said. “Continued pressure is being placed on this Al Qaeda-affiliated threat to limit its ability to expand and export violence, terrorism, and crime more broadly.”
Part of this pressure is reflected in an increase in the number of airstrikes against the terror group. Thus far in 2020, the U.S. has conducted 46 airstrikes against the group.
AFRICOM said that on August 26 an airstrike was carried out near Darasalam village in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region after al-Shabaab fighters attacked from a building in the area. In that airstrike, six al-Shabaab terrorists were killed and three were wounded.
“We have placed considerable pressure on the network, and have permanently removed several of their key leaders,” Karns said. “The U.S. presence and activity is helping to contain the threat and prevent its spread across borders. Al-Shabaab has clearly communicated its desire to strike America but does not have the capability to do so due to the pressure placed on them.”