US military and civilian defense contractors and Kenyan forces came under attack Sunday by the radical Islamist al-Shabaab terrorist group at the Camp Simba naval base on Manda Island in Kenya.
Al-Shaabab is an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, based in nearby Somalia. Camp Simba is a joint United States-Kenya military base in Kenya, Voice of America reported.
One US military service member and two Defense Department contractors were killed in the attack.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, commander of US Africa Command.Townsend said in a statement.
“As we honor their sacrifice, let’s also harden our resolve. Alongside our African and international partners, we will pursue those responsible for this attack and al-Shabaab, who seeks to harm Americans and US interests.”
Five of the terrorists were killed in the attack, according to the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), who said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip.”
The attempt failed, the KDF added, and the air strip is safe, but closed.
“After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and US Africa Command repelled the attack,” Africom said in a statement. “Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree. Manda Bay Airfield is utilized by US forces whose missions include providing training to our African partners, responding to crises, and protecting US interests in this strategically important area.”
However, according to The Associated Press, two fixed wing aircraft – a US Cessna and one belonging to Kenya – were destroyed, together with two US helicopters and a number of US vehicles at the air strip.
“Initial reports reflect damage to infrastructure and equipment,” said the US military. The base is located in Lamu country and hosts fewer than 100 US personnel, according to the Pentagon. Those stationed in the adjoining air field provide counter terrorism support to East African partners.
Despite the timing coinciding with the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani last week, a spokesperson for al-Shabaab told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, “No, this attack was no way related to that incident.”