Updated at 1:38 p.m. ET
A raid in Yemen ended in the death of an American service member and left three others wounded on Saturday. U.S. Central Command announced Sunday that the casualties were sustained in an operation against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite servicemembers,” Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel said in a statement. “The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe.”
In a statement released Sunday, President Trump expressed his condolences:
“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world.”
The Pentagon says the three service members were wounded in a raid, and another member of the military was injured when an aircraft had to make a “hard landing at a nearby location.” That aircraft was intentionally destroyed afterward.
Officials from Central Command tell NPR’s Alice Fordham that they are not aware of civilian casualties in the raid, but that they have not yet finished their debrief of the forces involved in the raid.
But Nasser al-Awlaki — a former Yemeni minister of agriculture whose son was an al-Qaida proselytiser killed in a 2011 drone strike — tells Alice his 8-year-old granddaughter was killed in the raid, along with other children.
“The USA is committing crimes, you know, especially under this new administration. They attacked a village at midnight you know with women and children sleeping,” Awlaki tells Alice.
Alice reports that a local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says he believes three children and six women were among 40 people killed in the raid, which took place in the central Yemeni province of Bayda.
Fourteen members of AQAP were killed in the raid, according to Central Command, and U.S. military captured information “that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”
Of those AQAP members killed in the operation, Yemeni officials report that three were senior members of the local al-Qaida affiliate, according to The Associated Press.