By Barbara Starr
U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six pulled out during a raid to capture suspected Al-Shabaab leader Ikrima when it became clear that he couldn't be taken alive, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
"Their mission was to capture him. Once it became clear we were not going to able to take him, the Navy commander made the decision to withdraw," said the official, who has direct knowledge of the entire Somalia operation but declined to be identified publicly.
The official said the SEALs came under heavy opposition and an intense firefight broke out, leading to the withdrawal.
The mission's aim - to capture Ikrima - is the reason the team was used rather than a lethal drone attack, the official said.
The raid was one of two U.S. special operations forces missions in Africa over the weekend targeting high-profile terrorism suspects.
In the other raid, members of the elite U.S. Army Delta Force captured Abu Anas al Libi, an al Qaeda operative wanted for his alleged role in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.