Mohamed Sheikh Nor/AP
The terrorist organization al-Shabab on Sunday attacked a Kenyan airfield used by both Kenyan and U.S. forces.
United States Africa Command released a statement on the attack saying that with AFRICOM working together with Kenyan forces, the attack at the Manda Bay Airfield had been repelled and the airfield cleared. AFRICOM said the security situation remained “fluid” as work continued to secure the base.
The attack by the Somali-based al-Shabab, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, was the group’s first against U.S. forces in Kenya, according to The Associated Press. The Manda Bay Airfield is used by U.S. forces to provide training and counterterrorism support to partners in East Africa.
In its statement, AFRICOM said an assessment of personnel at the airfield was underway. Though the militant group claimed to have killed people in the attack, neither U.S. or Kenyan forces have reported any casualties.
The Kenya Defence Forces released a statement saying that “The attempted breach was successfully repulsed” and that four “terrorists [sic] bodies” had been found.
“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,” according to the statement.
Citing a report from Kenyan police, the AP reported that two small planes, two U.S. helicopters and multiple U.S. vehicles had been destroyed in the attack. AFRICOM acknowledged damage to equipment from initial reports but did not release specifics.
The U.S. military said statements put out by al-Shabab exaggerated the attack.
“Al-Shabaab resorts to lies, coercion, and the exertion of force to bolster their reputation to create false headlines,” said 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.”
The airfield attack by the al-Qaida-linked group follows a truck bomb in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Dec. 28 that left at least 79 people dead. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.
A day after the bombing in Mogadishu, the U.S. military announced that at least four al-Shabab militants in Somalia had been killed in three separate airstrikes. The military said in a statement that the airstrikes “targeted al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with al-Qaeda.”