Somalia’s Islamist group Al-Shabab on Sunday attacked a military base in Lamu county in Kenya that is used by both US and Kenyan forces, a source and Al-Shabab said.
“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. Kenya’s military said that four of the attackers have been killed.
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 neighboring Lamu Island, a top tourist destination.
Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group fighting to overthrow the weak, UN-backed Somali government, also put out a statement promising further updates.
“An elite group of soldiers from Harakat Al-Shabab 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,” the statement added.
The attack comes nearly a year after Al-Shabab launched a deadly suicide attack on the upscale 14 Riverside complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing 21 people.
Al Shabab frequently launches attacks in Kenya, including planting roadside bombs in the north and attacks on passenger vehicles. This week, they killed three passengers when they attacked a bus in Lamu county, police said.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 after a spate of cross-border attacks and kidnappings. They were later absorbed into an African Union peacekeeping force, now 21,000-strong, that supports the Western-backed Somali government.