Early Sunday morning, Somali’s Al Shabaab militants launched an attack at a military base jointly used by US and Kenya forces in the coastal area of Lamu.
Moments after the attack, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said the attack at Camp Simba in Manda island occurred at around 4 to 5 a.m.
“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.”
He did not provide any casualty report, only saying “a security operation is underway.”
Photos showing thick black smoke billowing from the camp with a helicopter in the background soon went viral on social media.
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 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 group said there had been both Kenyan and American casualties, however this could not be immediately verified.
As at 9 a.m, reports said there was active shooting in or around the camp at Manda Bay.
A few minutes to 10 a.m, Kenya military Spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna confirmed the attack; saying it took place at around 5:30 a.m. Adding that an attempt to breach security at Manda Air Strip was “successfully repulsed”.
Mr. Njuguna also confirmed that bodies of 4 terrorists have so far been found, and that the airstrip is safe.
“Arising from the unsuccessful breach a fire broke out affecting some of the fuel tanks located at the airstrip. The fire has been put under control and standard security procedures are now on-going.”
The attack comes in the aftermath of threats for revenge following the assassination of Iranian top military general Qasem Soleimani, who was taken down by US forces in Iraq, accused of orchestrating vicious attacks targetting US citizens and interests in the Middle East.
Al-Shabaab jihadists have in the past staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya, in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011 to fight the group, as well as to target foreign interests.
The spate of attacks highlight the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.
Far away in Iran, AFP reported that locals were preparing to hold celebrations after Qasem’s burial, with the Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declaring the military general died a Martyr “whose killing must be revenged” terming the US action “an act of war.”
But US president Donald Trump who said he ordered Soleimani’s assassination has denied he was out to start a war “but stop one.”
The new development has raised tensions in the Middle East.
More updates on this story to follow…
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