Camp Simba
In this photo taken Aug. 26, 2019 and released by the U.S. Air Force, airmen from the 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron conduct a flag-raising ceremony, signifying the change from tactical to enduring operations, at Camp Simba, Manda Bay, Kenya.

US Africa Command has confirmed the attack in a Tweet:

U.S. Africa Command acknowledges there was an attack at Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya and is monitoring the situation. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the incident. As facts and details emerge, we will provide an update.”

Below is the Associated Press Report of the attack on a base used by US and Kenyan troops. The attack by al-Shabaab is unlikely to have anything to do with the tensions between the US and Kenya.

But an hour ago there were reports that the situation was still not under control. Harun Maruf of Voice of America and author of “Inside Al-Shabaab: The secret history of Al-Qaeda’s most powerful ally” Tweeted this:

“Situation inside Lamu military base still fluid: Kenya Military Spokesman Col Njuguna is effectively saying the situation at Camp Simba/Manda Airstrip is under-control; on the other hand pro-Al-Shabaab media are reporting that the confrontation inside the camp is still ongoing.”

As researcher and security specialist Rashid Abdi suggests in Twitter posts discussing the attack, this may have nothing to do with the tensions in the Middle East, although he  added that Kenyan security services have long been worried that Iran was trying to cultivate ties with al-Shabab. The US has repeatedly attacked Al-Shabaab with drones and special forces in their ongoing campaign against the Somali Islamists.

This is what Rashid Abdi had to say:

“Attack by Al-Shabaab on Kenyan navy camp in Lamu (where US military has minor presence) unrelated to tensions in ME. Group active in Lamu county, conducts frequent attacks. Thread on geopolitics of attack.

“Kenyan security services have for long accused Iran’s IRGC of seeking to cultivate links with Al-Shabaab in Kenyan Coast. Two alleged IRGC operatives were arrested some years ago and convicted by Kenyan court for attempting to supply Al-Shabaab with explosives.

“Avowedly Wahhabist Al-Shabaab not natural ally of Shia Iran, hostile, even. But if Kenyan claims true, Al-Shabaab attack may have been well-timed to signal to Iran it is open for tactical alliances. An Iran under pressure unlikely to turn down overtures from militants in Red Sea/Horn.

“Kenyan officials have been worried ever since tensions built up between Iran and US. An Al-Shabaab that forges relations with Iran is nightmare scenario. A Houthi-style upgrade – rockets and drones – could significantly alter asymmetric warfare terrain in Horn.”


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The al-Shabab extremist group says it has attacked a military base used by U.S. and Kenyan troops in coastal Kenya. Kenya’s military says the attempted pre-dawn breach was repulsed and at least four attackers were killed.

A witness reports a plume of black smoke rising above the base and says residents are reporting a car bomb exploded.

The U.S. Africa Command confirms the attack on Camp Simba in Lamu county. An internal Kenyan police report seen by The Associated Press says two fixed-wing aircraft, one U.S. and one Kenyan, were destroyed along with two U.S. helicopters and multiple U.S. vehicles at the Manda Bay military airstrip.

 

An al-Shabab statement Sunday asserted that it had inflicted casualties in the raid on the military base in Manda Bay, near the border with Somalia, and destroyed U.S. military equipment, including aircraft.

“The airstrip is safe,” the Kenyan military statement said. “Arising from the unsuccessful breach a fire broke out affecting some of the fuel tanks located at the airstrip.”

The attack comes just over a week after an al-Shabab truck bomb in Somalia’s capital killed at least 79 people and U.S. airstrikes killed seven al-Shabab fighters in response.

Last year al-Shabab attacked a U.S. military base inside Somalia. The extremist group has carried out multiple attacks against Kenyan troops in the past in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to Somalia to fight it. Al-Shabab also has attacked civilian targets in Kenya including buses, schools and shopping malls.

The early Sunday attack comes days after a U.S. airstrike killed Iran’s top military commander and Iran vowed retaliation, but al-Shabab is a Sunni Muslim group and there is no sign of links to Shiite Iran or proxies.

Analyst Rashid Abdi in Twitter posts discussing the attack said it had nothing to do with the tensions in the Middle East but added that Kenyan security services have long been worried that Iran was trying to cultivate ties with al-Shabab.

“Avowedly Wahhabist Al-Shabaab not natural ally of Shia Iran, hostile, even. But if Kenyan claims true, AS attack may have been well-timed to signal to Iran it is open for tactical alliances,” he wrote.