AL SHABAB CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ATTACKS ON US BASE IN KENYA


Al-Shabab extremists attacked a military base used by U.S. counterterror forces in Kenya before dawn Sunday, killing three American DoD personnel and destroying several U.S. aircraft and vehicles before they were repelled, U.S. and Kenyan authorities said.

The attack on the Manda Bay Airfield was the al-Qaida-linked group’s first attack against U.S. forces in the East African country, and the military called the security situation “fluid” several hours after the assault.

Five attackers were killed, Kenyan military spokesman Paul Njuguna said. Al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the assault.

One U.S. serviceman and two contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense were killed in the fighting, according to a statement issued late Sunday by the U.S. Africa Command, or Africom.

The attack on the compound “involved indirect and small arms fire. After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and U.S. Africa Command repelled the al-Shabaab attack,” said the AFRICOM statement. “Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree. Manda Bay Airfield is utilized by U.S. forces whose missions include providing training to our African partners, responding to crises, and protecting U.S. interests in this strategically important area.” 

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Al-Shabab claimed that there were 17 U.S. casualties, nine Kenyan soldiers killed and seven aircraft destroyed. The U.S. Africa Command dismissed the al-Shabab claims as exaggerated and said U.S. and Kenyan forces repelled the attack.

Al Shabab letter claiming responsibility for Kenya tensions @TheBigTrendin

Kenya is a key base for fighting al-Shabab, one of the world’s most resilient extremist organizations. A large plume of black smoke rose above the airfield Sunday and residents said a car bomb had exploded. Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia told The Associated Press that five suspects were arrested and were being interrogated.

An internal Kenyan police report seen by the AP said two fixed-wing aircraft, a U.S. Cessna and a Kenyan one, were destroyed along with two U.S. helicopters and multiple U.S. vehicles at the military airstrip. The report said explosions were heard at around 5:30 a.m. from the direction of the airstrip. The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority said the airstrip was closed for all operations.

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The military’s Camp Simba in Lamu county, established more than a decade ago, has under 100 U.S. personnel, according to Pentagon figures. U.S. forces at the adjoining Manda Bay airfield train and give counterterror support to East African partners. A U.S. flag-raising at the camp in August signaled its change “from tactical to enduring operations,” the Air Force said at the time.

Al-Shabab has launched a number of attacks inside Kenya, including against civilian buses, schools and shopping malls. The group has been the target of a growing number of U.S. airstrikes inside Somalia during President Donald Trump’s administration. This attack marks a significant escalation of al-Shabab’s campaign of attacks inside Kenya, said analyst Andrew Franklin, a former U.S. Marine and longtime Kenya resident.

“Launching a deliberate assault of this type against a well-defended permanent base occupied by (Kenya Defence Forces), contractors and U.S. military personnel required a great deal of planning, rehearsals, logistics and operational capability,” he said. Previous attacks against security forces have mainly been ambushes on Kenyan army or police patrols.

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The Sunday attack came days after a U.S. airstrike killed Iran’s top military commander and Iran vowed retaliation, but al-Shabab is a Sunni Muslim group and there is no sign of links to Shiite Iran or proxies.

“No, this attack was no way related to that incident” in the Middle East, an al-Shabab spokesman told the AP on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

One analyst, Rashid Abdi, in Twitter posts discussing the attack, agreed, but added that Kenyan security services have long been worried that Iran was trying to cultivate ties with al-Shabab. 

“Avowedly Wahhabist Al-Shabaab not natural ally of Shia Iran, hostile, even. But if Kenyan claims true, AS attack may have been well-timed to signal to Iran it is open for tactical alliances,” 


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Andre Kwasi Sarpong
An enterprising young man with an eye for quality and a vision to succeed in the world of information.

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