Two US Navy sailors were reported missing while conducting operations Thursday off the coast of Somalia, according to US Central Command.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing to locate the sailors, Central Command said in a Friday statement.
The brief statement gave no additional information about what the sailors had been doing when they went missing other than to say they were “forward-deployed” to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet area of operations and were “supporting a wide variety of missions.”
“Out of respect for the families affected, we will not release further information at this time,” the statement said according to CNN.
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The US maintains a small military presence in Somalia which focuses on the threat of the al-Shabaab militant group, an extremist Islamist organization that has carried out attacks against the Somali government.
The US recognizes al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization.
In addition to training Somali forces, the US has also coordinated with the Somali government to carry out strikes against al-Shabaab.
According to US Africa Command, “Al-Shabaab is the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network in the world and has proved both its will and capability to attack U.S. forces and threaten U.S. security interests.”
The U.S. has an estimated 450 military personnel in Somalia after President Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces.
The U.S. provides military assistance in the East African country as it continues to battle, what the U.S. has called, “the largest and most deadly al-Qaida network in the world.”
The U.S. supports Somali forces and a multinational African Union force with drone strikes, intelligence, and training.