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Arizona soldier killed in Somalia

A U.S. Army soldier from Chandler was killed Friday in an attack in Somalia. Flags throughout the state will fly at half-staff through Monday evening to honor Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26.

A non-commissioned intelligence officer with 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Conrad was killed in a firefight in which four other U.S. troops were wounded.

An unidentified soldier from a "partner force" was also wounded in the incident, in Jubaland, Somalia, about 220 miles southwest of the capital of Mogadishu, officials said.

Conrad, deployed out of Fort Bragg, N.C., joined the Army in 2010 and had previously served at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, Washington, officials said.

Conrad, who was identified by U.S. Army Special Operations Command after his family was notified of his death, had deployed twice to Afghanistan before being assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group in 2016. His awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, three Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, the Army Service Ribbon, two Overseas Service Ribbons, the NATO Medal, the Basic Parachutist Badge and the Driver and Mechanic Badge.

Conrad was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal, officials said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered that flags throughout the state fly at half-staff through Monday evening in Conrad's honor. "The prayers and hearts of all of Arizona are with the family and loved ones of Staff Sgt. Conrad," Ducey said in a statement. "He made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of his country, and we are forever grateful."

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that his "thoughts and prayers are with the families of our serviceman who was killed and his fellow servicemen who were wounded in Somalia. They are truly all HEROES."

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U.S. special forces are deployed with Somali National Security Forces and Kenyan Defense Force soldiers in the east African nation, fighting Islamist al-Shabab forces that control much of the countryside.

According to U.S. Africa Command, the American troops were taking part in Operation Octave Shield, "clearing terrorists from contested areas":

A large force consisting of about 800 SNSF and KDF service members was conducting a multiday operation almost 220 miles southwest of Mogadishu when the attack occurred. The mission's objectives were to clear al-Shabab terrorists from contested areas, liberate villages from al-Shabab control, and establish a permanent combat outpost designed to increase the span of Federal Government of Somalia security and governance, officials said. U.S. forces provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission.

One of the wounded U.S. service members "received sufficient medical care in the field," officials aid. Three U.S. soldiers and one African soldier were evacuated to Kenya for further treatment.

About 500 U.S. troops are deployed in the nation on the Horn of Africa, a number that has increased under President Donald Trump. The U.S. is also conducted drone strikes in the country.

U.S. troops were pulled out of the war-torn nation in 1993, following an incident in which two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu — a clash depicted in the film "Black Hawk Down."

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