LAMU, Kenya Jan 5 – Suspected Al Shabaab militants launched an attack in Lamu Sunday, at a military base used by Kenya and US forces.
"They have attacked Manda airstrip in Lamu, which is just next to the military camp that hosts military personnel from many countries including Kenya and the US. We are informed that fighting is still ongoing," the military source told Reuters. The source added that fighters were trying to access the base from the airstrip.
The attack sent a dark plume of smoke into the air, said witness Abdallah Barghash. He was among the crowds watching the drama unfold on Manda Island from neighbouring Lamu Island, a top tourist destination.
A Spokesman for the Kenya Defence Forces Col Paul Njuguna said the attack occurred at 5: 30am, in what he described as a “breach security at Manda Air Strip. . . The attempted breach was successfully repulsed. Four terrorist bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said but did not indicate if the four were killed or blew themselves up.
Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia too confirmed the attack at Camp Simba in Manda island but did not provide further details. “Yes there was an incident in the morning but we have been able to push them away,” he said, “However, we are not sure if there are still remnants within.”
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 said there had been both Kenyan and American casualties, however, this could not be immediately verified.
"An elite group of soldiers from Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen’s ‘Martyrdom Brigade’ launched a daring dawn raid on a US naval base known as ‘Camp Simba’ in Lamu County, Kenya," the statement said. "The base is home to hundreds of US military personnel and Kenyan soldiers and serves as one of the many launch pads for the American crusade against Islam in the region,"
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.
Photos circulated online showed thick black smoke billowing from the camp with a helicopter in the background.
As at 9am Sunday, reports said there was active shooting in or around the camp at Manda Bay.
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