Update (1615ET): The U.S. military’s Africa Command confirmed that one American serviceman and two Department of Defense (DOD) contractors were killed on Sunday when the al-Shabaab terrorist group attacked the Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya.
Two additional DOD members were also wounded in the assault, according to a Sunday afternoon statement from Africa Command, adding that they are being evacuated and are in stable condition.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” said U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, the chief of Africa Command.
“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 U.S. interests. We remain committed to preventing al-Shabaab from maintaining a safe haven to plan deadly attacks against the U.S. homeland, East African, and international partners.”
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U.S. Africa Command has confirmed militants attacked a base used by U.S. forces in Kenya on Sunday. The Sunday attack was led by terrorist organization al-Shabaab at Manda Bay Airfield.
U.S. Africa Command said, "Working alongside our Kenyan partners, the airfield is cleared and still in the process of being fully secured" adding that the security situation at Manda Bay is "fluid."
"Al-Shabaab is a brutal terrorist organization," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. "It is an al-Qaeda affiliate seeking to establish a self-governed Islamic territory in East Africa, to remove Western influence and ideals from the region, and to further its jihadist agenda. U.S. presence in Africa is critically important to counter-terrorism efforts."
There was no report of U.S. or Kenyan deaths. U.S. Africa Command said, "accountability of personnel assessment is underway." There were reports on Twitter that infrastructure and equipment on the base were heavily damaged during the intense firefight.
Twitter handle Intel Air & Sea provided several pictures of a commercial twin-engine passenger aircraft engulfed in flames.
Hot 96 FM Kenya tweeted pictures of dense black smoke rising from "Camp Simba army bases that hosts U.S. & Kenya soldiers in Lamu's Manda Bay."
Suspected Al-Shabab militants attack Camp Simba army bases that hosts US & Kenya soldiers in Lamu's Manda Bay, police say. pic.twitter.com/mCP3OwgfxQ— Hot 96 FM Kenya (@Hot_96Kenya) January 5, 2020
Here's a closer view of the destruction, where a broadcast journalist with BBC News Swahili tweeted: "Al-Shabaab say they have launched a dawn attack on Kenya/U.S. military base in Lamu County. A suicide car bomb reportedly breached the entry to Camp Simba, Manda Bay. The explosion sent plume of dark smoke into the sky."
BREAKING: Al-Shabaab say they have launched a dawn attack on Kenya/US military base in Lamu County. A suicide car bomb reportedly breached the entry to Camp Simba, Manda Bay. The explosion sent plume of dark smoke into the sky.— Roncliffe Odit (@RoncliffeOdit) January 5, 2020
Photos ~ Courtesy pic.twitter.com/bMNNYW2ncY
Al Shabaab claims it destroyed seven planes and three vehicles during the attack.
AlShabaab officially claims destroying 7 Aircraft, 3 Vehicles, in ongoing attack in #US millitary base in #Lamu.— In Mogadishu مقديشو (@mogadishu_boy) January 5, 2020
Kataib media publishes exclusive pictures in Manda bay base. pic.twitter.com/C5o5TtJ2MC
The organization released a statement indicating there were "severe casualties on both # U.S. and #Kenya troops."
BREAKING: #AlShabaab statement say their fighters "inflicted severe casualties on both #US and #Kenya troops, destroyed US military aircraft and vehicles" following the Sunday morning attack on Camp Simba in Manda Bay, #Lamu County.— Morad News (@MoradNews) January 5, 2020
No comment from U.S. or Kenya officials so far pic.twitter.com/p2vIUs98io
"Imagery from Manda Bay #Keynya suggests at least two aircraft destroyed in #AlShabaab attack - one (#US Dash-8?) on apron [A] and one on taxiway/runway [B]," said Joseph Dempsey, a research analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.