The predawn raid Saturday came unstuck when the US troops were faced with heavier-than-expected return fire, and pulled out to avoid civilian casualties, two security sources said. No Americans were injured.
Although the target was not named and officially described only as “high-value,” US officials suggested the raid was “prompted by Westgate”.
Saturday’s mission took place in Baraawe, an Al Shabab stronghold 110 miles south of Mogadishu, where US Special Forces carried out a daytime raid in 2009 to kill Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, wanted in connection with earlier terrorist strikes in East Africa.
In Saturday’s raid, the commandos came ashore in speedboats and immediately focused their assault on a beachside villa where it is understood that the target had been staying, the Associated Press reported.
However a dozen Al Shabab fighters returned fire and threw grenades, a source in Mogadishu says, and the Seals’ commanders made the call to pull out to avoid civilian casualties. Helicopter gunships launched from military vessels offshore arrived to provide cover for the retreating troops, according to reports from eyewitnesses.
Is this a sign the Drone War is ending, or that there was a target on the ground too high-value to kill? Either way, too bad the mission had to be called off.