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Killed serviceman first US combat death in Somalia for 20 years

A US service member has been killed in Somalia during an operation against the extremist group al Shabab in the first US combat death in the country in more than two decades.

It comes as the United States steps up its fight against the al Qaida-linked organisation in a country that remains largely chaos. The military says two other US personnel were wounded.

"We do not believe there has been a case where a US service member has been killed in combat action in Somalia since the incident there in 1993," US Africa Command spokesman Patrick Barnes said.

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

A Somali intelligence official said US forces killed at least six people during the raid on a building housing the al Shabab group's Andalus radio station.

The official says the dead in the attack on a farm included al-Shabab journalists.

In a statement, the US Africa Command said the service member was killed on Thursday during an operation near Barii, about 40m (64km) west of Mogadishu.

It said US forces had been conducting an advise-and-assist mission with Somalia's military.

Al Shabab, via its Shahada News Agency, said "an air landing operation by US special forces was thwarted in Lower Shabelle province and a number of their soldiers were killed and wounded", SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Both the United States and Somalia have declared new efforts against al Shabab.

US president Donald Trump has approved expanded military operations, including more aggressive air strikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.

A Somali intelligence official confirmed the US military operation, saying US forces in helicopters raided an al Shabab hideout near the Somali capital and engaged with fighters.

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

The official said the fighters mounted a stiff resistance against the soldiers.

Somalia's new Somali-American president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, last month declared a new offensive against al Shabab, which is based in Somalia but has claimed responsibility for major attacks elsewhere in East Africa.

Also last month, the US military announced it was sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment to the country in roughly two decades.

The US in recent years has sent a small number of special operations forces and counter-terror advisers to Somalia and has carried out a number of air strikes, including drone strikes, against al Shabab.

The extremist group, which was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but continues to carry out deadly attacks there, has vowed to step up the violence in response to the moves by Mr Trump and Mr Mohamed.

AP

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