American and Kenyan forces have repelled an attack on a military airstrip in Kenya by al Qaeda-linked extremists.
Al Shabab, a terror group based in nearby Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday that destroyed several U.S. aircraft and other vehicles at Camp Simba near the Somali border. Joint U.S. and Kenyan forces killed at least four attackers and arrested five more, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. Africa Command is conducting “accountability of personnel assessment” to determine if and how many Americans were injured or killed in the attack. The U.S. military said that “initial reports reflect damage to infrastructure and equipment.”
The command acknowledged that there was an attack on the base but stressed that Al Shabab has a “commonplace” practice of “exaggerating the security situation on the ground.”
“Al-Shabaab resorts to lies, coercion, and the exertion of force to bolster their reputation to create false headlines,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “It is important to counter al-Shabaab where they stand to prevent the spread of this cancer.”
He continued, “Al-Shabaab is a brutal terrorist organization. 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.”
The attackers destroyed two Cessna aircraft, one belonging to the U.S. and the other to Kenya, along with two U.S. helicopters and multiple other U.S. vehicles, according to a Kenyan police report.
The pre-dawn attack is the first time al Shabab militants have directly attacked U.S. military personnel. The U.S. service members located at the Kenyan airbase train Kenyan soldiers and use the airstrip to launch attacks against al Shabab in Somalia.
The United States has conducted dozens of aerial attacks against al Shabab in recent years, killing hundreds of the group’s fighters. In 2019, the U.S. carried out a record 63 airstrikes and drone strikes against the terror group.
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