The Pentagon says the Navy Seal team that killed two civilians on board a U.S. Navy ship in Yemen was in fact an intelligence asset working for a terrorist group.
In a report released Tuesday, the Defense Department said that the raid killed two Yemeni civilians and wounded several others.
The raid, which the Pentagon says killed two civilian and wounded a third, was carried out late Sunday, as the ship was on its way from Aden to Djibouti, where it was to meet a cargo ship bound for the U.N. In an exclusive interview with The Washington Times, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the two civilians were killed and wounded in the attack on the USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer.
The Navy SEALs fired on the Mason while conducting a search and rescue mission, he said.
The incident comes amid a growing number of terrorist attacks on U. S. ships and U. N. facilities.
A Navy SEAL killed an Iraqi man and his wife in a raid in June, the first major U.s. attack on a ship this year.
In the weeks since the attack, the Navy has released videos of the attack and identified the dead men.
In March, the U-2 spy plane was shot down in Afghanistan.
In January, a U-3 surveillance plane crashed in Iran.
The U.K. has also shot down a Russian spy plane in November.
In February, a Chinese jet was shot out of the sky in the disputed South China Sea.
A month earlier, a drone crashed in the same area.
The Pentagon also released footage of a Navy SEAL in Yemen earlier this month that was captured on a drone camera.
In addition to the death of the two Americans, the report says a third American was injured in the raid.
The four-person Navy SEAL team also captured a Yemeni official who had been traveling to the U,N.
headquarters in New York, the Pentagon said.
Cook said Tuesday that the U and the U.-N are still assessing the raid, but that the mission was an intelligence-gathering mission that did not involve an attack on American ships.
The officials, who were on the mission in support of the Yemeni government, were killed in a “friendly fire” incident that occurred during the mission.
The Yemeni government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The CIA declined to comment on the report, but an agency spokesman in Washington, D.C., said in an email, “It is always wrong to characterize the actions of our personnel in any way.”
The report did not name the people killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.