US Navy SEALs strike al-Shabab fighters in Somalia
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A team of US Navy SEALs has carried out a strike on a coastal town in southern Somalia against al-Shabab, the group behind last month's mall attack in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. The SEALs attacked a senior al-Shabab commander's seaside villa in a pre-dawn raid in the town of Baraawe, The New York Times reported. A US military official said that the SEALs did not get their target. A former US military official also confirmed the assault by the SEALs, but did not give more details. "The Baraawe raid was planned a week and a half ago," a US security official said. "It was prompted by the Westgate attack," he added, referring to the September 21 attack by the al-Shabab on a shopping mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead during a four-day siege. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. According to reports, the dead also included three British nationals, two French women, two Canadian citizens including a diplomat, a Chinese woman, two Indians, a Ghanaian poet, a South Korean, a South African, and a Dutch woman. Several Americans were also injured during the hostage crisis. The US Defense Department declined to comment over the issue. The al-Shabab confirmed the strike, but said that the attack had failed. Al-Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said that commandos had stormed the beach by boat. "The bungled operation was carried out by white people, who came with two small boats from a larger ship out at sea ... one Shabab guard was killed, but reinforcements soon came and the foreigners fled," he said. "Where the foreigners had been, afterwards we saw lots of blood, so maybe we wounded some," he added. On September 25, the leader of Somalia's al-Shabab, Ahmed Godane, confirmed that the group was behind the attack on the mall, saying the raid was in retaliation for the Kenyan military's invasion of southern Somalia in October 2011. "Take your troops out or prepare for a long-lasting war, blood, destruction and evacuation," Godane said. Kenya has more than 4,000 army soldiers in southern Somalia, where they have been battling the al-Shabab fighters since 2011. The Kenyan troops are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that gets training and equipment from the United States. Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.