A U.S. service member and two Department of Defense contractors were killed Sunday when fighters from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group launched an attack on a military base used by U.S. and Kenyan forces in coastal Lamu.
Two other Defense Department members were wounded in the attack on the Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, U.S. Africa Command said.
The wounded service members are stable and being evacuated, the January 5 statement said. AFRICOM was withholding the names of the dead until their families were notified, it added.
Earlier, Kenya’s army spokesperson Colonel Paul Njuguna said in a statement that at 5:30 a.m. “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip.” The base in Lamu is also known as Camp Simba.
The pre-dawn attack involved indirect and small arms fire, AFRICOM said. Kenyan and U.S. forces repelled the attack after an initial penetration of the perimeter, it said. Six civilian aircraft operated by contractors were damaged. AFRICOM earlier told The Defense Post that infrastructure had also been damaged.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying they had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base.”
The group’s claims of Kenyan casualties could not immediately be verified.
Al-Shabaab said the attack was part of its “Al-Quds [Jerusalem] shall never be Judaized” campaign – a term it first used during an attack on the upscale Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi in January last year that left 21 people dead.
The Shabaab was routed from Mogadishu in 2011 by the 22,000-strong AMISOM mission, and has had to abandon most of its strongholds, but it still controls vast rural areas and remains the key threat to peace in Somalia and carries out attacks in neighboring Kenya.
Somali forces came under attack by Shabaab militants while on patrol near Mogadishu on Friday, prompting the U.S. to conduct an airstrike.
With reporting from AFP