Al-Shabab Attacks Kenyan Military Base Used By U.S. Troops, Destroys Aircraft

Militant group Al-Shabab attacked a military base in Kenya used by U.S. and Kenyan troops, authorities have said.

The Somalia-based Islamist group, affiliated with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the dawn attack on on Camp Simba in Lamu county early on Sunday.

"Seven aircraft and three military vehicles were destroyed in the attack," Al-Shabab claimed in a statement, according to Reuters.

But Col. Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, told the Associated Press that the group's claims—including causing severe casualties—had been "grossly exaggerated."

No deaths of U.S. or Kenyan forces were immediately reported, but the Associated Press said that two fixed-wing aircraft, a U.S. Cessna and a Kenyan Cessna, had been destroyed as well as two U.S. helicopters and several U.S. vehicles at the Manda Bay airstrip.

This morning at around 5:30 am an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip. The attempted breach was...

Posted by Kenya Defence Forces on Saturday, January 4, 2020

In a statement, the Kenya Defence Forces said four militants were killed during the attack on the airstrip. The KDF added the attempted breach was "successfully repulsed" and the airstrip had been secured.

"This morning at around 5:30 am an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip. The attempted breach was successfully repulsed," the Kenya Defence Forces said. "Four terrorists bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe."

The statement added: "Arising from the unsuccessful breach a fire broke out affecting some of the fuel tanks located at the airstrip. The fire has been put under control and standard security procedures are now on-going."

The U.S. Africa Command confirmed the attack on the Manda Bay Airfield on Twitter and said it would provide an update "as facts and details emerge."

The tweet said: "U.S. Africa Command acknowledges there was an attack at Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya and is monitoring the situation. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the incident. As facts and details emerge, we will provide an update."

According to the Associated Press, Al-Shabab has carried out several attacks against Kenyan troops in retaliation for Kenya sending troops across the border into Somalia to target the group.

The latest attack comes just days after the U.S killed Iran's top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, but analyst Rashid Abdi speculated on Twitter that it was unrelated to the heightening tensions in the Middle East.

However, Abdi added that Kenyan security services have been concerned that Iran was trying to form ties with Al-Shabab—and described an alliance between the two as a "nightmare scenario."

Regarding potential links between Al-Shabab and Iran, the AP reported Karns saying: "Al-Shabab, affiliated with al-Qaida, has their own agenda and have made clear their desire to attack U.S. interests."

manda bay
File photo: Kenyan military troops and US marines carry out a joint military exercise in Manda Bay near the coastal town of Lamu, Kenya, on January 15, 2004. Al-Shabab attacked the Manda Bay airstrip on Sunday. Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images
Al-Shabab Attacks Kenyan Military Base Used By U.S. Troops, Destroys Aircraft | World