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UConn: Navy SEAL killed in Somalia was 2001 grad, athlete

U.S. African Command said today that a U.S. service member was killed Thursday in a clash with Al-Shabaab about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, Somalia, the first U.S. military death there in 11 years.

The U.S. Navy SEAL killed during operations in Africa Friday has been identified.

The attackers were "neutralized" and the wounded service members were taken to neighboring Djibouti, said an official.

Somalia recently elected a new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo-a dual U.S. Somali national-who has declared war on Al-Shabab and called upon "brainwashed" members of the group to accept an amnesty and renounce violence.

As part of their advise and assist mission, American special operations forces accompany Somali troops in raids against al-Shabaab.

He is the first American to die in combat in the African country since 1993.

The U.S.is now carrying out an advise and assist mission with Somali forces while continuing a long-standing air campaign to target al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab has been ramping up small-scale attacks using mostly improvised explosive devices in recent months, especially since February when the country elected its new president.

The official said the helicopters dropped soldiers near Dare Salaam village in an attempt to capture or kill extremists in the area.

Two other USA service members were also wounded.

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Both the United States and Somalia in recent weeks have declared new efforts against al-Shabab.

It is believed the soldier was a US Navy SEAL while two other Americans were injured in the raid on an al-Shabaab compound.

The death was the first in combat of a US military member in Somalia since 1993.

The SEAL is the first American servicemember killed in action in Somalia in decades, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, likely since the notorious 1993 Battle of Mogadishu - known as the "Black Hawk Down" incident - during which 18 US military members were killed.

"Al-Shabab presents a threat to Americans and American interests", U.S. Africa Command said in a statement on Friday.

"It is clear that USA on-the-ground support to Somali security forces and African Union peacekeepers has been stepped up this year", Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College, told the New York Times in October, 2016.

The United States pulled out of Somalia after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.

Al-Shabaab is an al Qaeda-linked terror group that seeks to turn the country into a fundamentalist Islamic state and has carried out repeated attacks against the government and military targets.

The mission was not being carried out under the new expanded authorities granted by the Trump administration for the USA military to conduct offensive counterterrorism airstrikes in Somalia targeting al-Shabaab, according to the US official.

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