January 05, 2020
- Kenya military: Four of the attackers have been killed
- Al-Shabab has been fighting to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government
Above, US airmen from the 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron conduct a flag-raising ceremony at Camp Simba, Manda Bay, Kenya in this photo taken on Aug. 26, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Lexie West/US Air Force via AP)
NAIROBI, Kenya – A Kenyan police official says five suspects have been arrested after the Al-Shabab extremist group on early Sunday attacked a military base used by US and Kenyan troops.
Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia told The Associated Press the five suspects are being interrogated about the attack.
The US Africa Command has confirmed the attack on Camp Simba in Lamu county. There is no immediate report of US or Kenyan deaths.
There was no report of US or Kenyan deaths. The camp has under 100 US personnel, according to Pentagon figures.
An internal Kenyan police report seen by The Associated Press said two fixed-wing aircraft, a US Cessna and a Kenyan one, were destroyed along with two US helicopters and multiple US vehicles at the Manda Bay military airstrip. The report said explosions were heard at around 5:30 a.m. from the direction of the airstrip. The scene, now secured, indicated that Al-Shabab likely gained entry “to conduct targeted attacks,” the report said.
Al-Shabab’s claim of responsibility said the attack destroyed US equipment including aircraft and vehicles. It said fighters covertly “entered enemy lines” and that the attack was ongoing.
Kenya’s military, however, said that “the airstrip is safe.” It said that “arising from the unsuccessful breach a fire broke out affecting some of the fuel tanks located at the airstrip.” The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority said the airstrip was closed for all operations.
Al-Shabab, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, is based in neighboring Somalia and has launched a number of attacks in Kenya. The group has been the target of a growing number of US airstrikes during President Donald Trump’s administration.
The latest attack comes just over a week after an Al-Shabab truck bomb in Somalia’s capital killed at least 79 people and US airstrikes killed seven Al-Shabab fighters in response.
Last year Al-Shabab attacked a US military base inside Somalia. The extremist group has carried out multiple attacks against Kenyan troops in the past in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to Somalia to fight it. Al-Shabab also has attacked civilian targets in Kenya including buses, schools and shopping malls.
The early Sunday attack comes days after a US 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.
The Al-Shabab claim of responsibility said Sunday’s attack was part of its “Jerusalem will never be Judaized” campaign, a rarely made reference that also was used after Al-Shabab’s deadly attack on a luxury mall complex in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, in January 2019.