NATIONAL NEWS

Two US Navy SEALs missing off the coast of Somalia are dead, officials say

Jan 21, 2024, 5:43 PM

U.S. officials said Sunday two Navy SEALS missing for 10 days are dead.  (Photo Belinda Alker, Mini...

U.S. officials said Sunday two Navy SEALS missing for 10 days are dead. (Photo Belinda Alker, Ministry of Defence via AP)

(Photo Belinda Alker, Ministry of Defence via AP)

(CNN) — The two US Navy SEALs who went missing off the coast of Somalia on Jan. 11 are dead, U.S. Central Command said after searching for them for 10 days.

“We regret to announce that after a 10-day exhaustive search, our two missing U.S. Navy SEALs have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased,” Central Command said in a statement Sunday. “Out of respect for the families, no further information will be released at this time.”

CENTCOM added that teams from the U.S., Japan and Spain searched more than 21,000 square miles to try to locate the two missing SEALs. The two sailors were boarding a vessel when one fell into the water due to eight-foot swells, and the second jumped in after them according to protocol, CNN previously reported.

Little information about the Navy SEALS

Central Command has not released information about what the sailors were doing when they went missing other than to say they were “forward-deployed” to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of operations and were “supporting a wide variety of missions.” It’s unclear what vessel the sailors were attempting to board.

“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example. Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time,” said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, U.S. CENTCOM commander.

“We mourn the loss of our two brave Navy SEALs, and our hearts are with their families,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Sunday. “The entire Department is united in sorrow today. We are grateful to all who worked tirelessly to try to find and rescue them.”

The U.S. maintains a small military presence in Somalia that focuses on the threat of the al-Shabaab militant group, an extremist Islamist organization that has carried out attacks against the Somali government. The U.S. recognizes al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization.

In addition to training Somali forces, the U.S. has also coordinated with the Somali government to carry out strikes against al-Shabaab.

According to U.S. 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.”

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Two US Navy SEALs missing off the coast of Somalia are dead, officials say