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Two US Seal team members missing after incident off Somalia coast

In World
January 14, 2024

WASHINGTON – Two members of the Navy Seals remained missing on Jan 13 after a mishap two days ago while they were attempting to board a ship off the coast of Somalia, two current and two former Pentagon officials said.

The incident comes as the United States is stepping up actions against Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen, intent on curbing their attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. As part of those missions, the US Navy and allies have been responding to distress calls.

Over the past two days, the US and allies have struck Houthi-linked targets in Yemen, trying to damage the militia’s offensive capabilities.

In the latest incident, members of the Seal team were dispatched on Jan 11 to approach a suspicious vessel off the Somali coast, officials said. It was unclear on Jan 13 what prompted the commandos to single out the vessel for a closer investigation.

In recent weeks, the Houthi militia and Somali-based pirates have threatened or seized ships in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. The Houthis say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Pentagon officials said on Jan 13 that the circumstances surrounding this incident were different from those involving the Houthis or pirates. But they declined to disclose further details.

As two members of the Seal team tried to board the vessel on Sat 11 night in rough seas, one of the commandos apparently slipped off the boarding ladder, according to one current and one former Pentagon official briefed on the incident. Another member of the team then jumped into the water to try to rescue the sailor, the officials said. Both soon disappeared in the swells.

Search and recovery efforts have been underway, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters. NYTIMES

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