A U.S. service member is being treated for non-life threatening injuries after Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab attacked U.S. and Somali forces with a car bomb and mortar fire, said Air Force Col. Col Christopher Karns, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command.
Monday’s attack took place near Jana Cabdalle, Somalia, where U.S. forces were accompanying Somali troops on an advise and assist mission, Karns said in a statement.
“The U.S. service member is in stable condition and receiving treatment for injuries that are not assessed to be life-threatening,” Karns said. “It is also assessed at least one Al Shabaab fighter was killed during the attack.”
"The U.S. regularly conducts advise and assist missions with Somali partner forces,” Karns continued. “The collective efforts of the U.S. and Somalia place pressure on Al Shabaab, limiting their ability to extend their reach and movement. Al Shabaab remains a dangerous enemy. 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."
Three Somali special forces soldiers were killed in the attack, a Somali government official told Reuters.
A Somali soldier was also wounded in the attack in Jana Cabdalle village, some 60 km (37 miles) from the port city of Kismayu, which is also Jubbaland region's capital.
"Two soldiers of Danab (special) forces died and two others were wounded. A U.S. officer was seriously wounded," Mohamed Ahmed Sabriye, director of communications of Jubbaland state palace told Reuters by phone.
He later said one of the wounded Danab force soldiers had subsequently died.
He said the suicide car bomb had exploded outside the special forces base.
Al Shabaab said they were behind the attack and put the number of dead at 20, including U.S. personnel.
"We attacked U.S. and Somali forces called Danab in Jana Cabdalle village with a suicide car bomb. We killed four U.S. officers, and 16 Somali forces which they trained," Abdiasis Abu Musab, its military operation spokesman, said in a statement.
"We also wounded 12 Somali soldiers. We also destroyed 3 U.S. armoured vehicles.
The government and al Shabaab often give different numbers of casualties.
Al Shabaab has been fighting to topple Somalia’s central government since 2008 to establish its own rule based on its own harsh interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.
(Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Jon Boyle, William Maclean)
Task & Purpose reporter Jeff Schogol contributed to this story.