The Islamic extremist Al-Shabab terrorist group staged an attack on Camp Simba, a United States military base in the East African country of Kenya early on Sunday morning, claiming to inflict “severe casualties on both American and Kenyan troops stationed there,” as quoted in a report by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news agency. The Somalia-based group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for carrying out the attack.
Though a statement from Al-Shabab claimed that the attack caused “severe” casualties, no reports of Americans or Kenyans wounded or killed by the militants have been confirmed as of early Sunday morning, United States EST. In fact, Irungu Macharia, a commissioner of Lamu County where the U.S.-Kenyan military base is located, said that the attack was “repulsed,” as quoted in the Al-Jazeera report.
The reported attack comes the day after an Iranian military commander warned that his country was ready to strike at American targets in retaliation for the assassination, by U.S. drone strike, of Iran’s military leader General Qassem Soleimani.
But while Iran is a Shi’ite Muslim country, Al-Shabab adheres to the Sunni sect of Islam, which is opposed to Shi’a, considering it a religious heresy. As a result, it appears unlikely that the reported attack in Kenya is related to the threats of retaliation by Iran. Al-Shabab is believed to be linked to the terror network Al Qaeda, according to Al-Jazeera.
Heavy gunfire reported in Manda Bay, Lamu County, Kenya following suspected Al Shabaab attack. pic.twitter.com/uBmuNgi1WU
— The African Voice (@teddyeugene) January 5, 2020
According to Al Jazeera Senior Producer Hamza Mohamed, posting via Twitter, an Al-Shabab spokesperson told the network that the attack on Camp Simbe “is not connected to current events in the Middle East.”
Al Shabab issued a statement claiming that its fighters, in a dawn raid, had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of a part of the base,” as quoted in the Al-Jazeera report.
Camp Simba has been used by U.S. troops in Kenya since 2017, according to a CNN report. Troops stationed there perform “counter-terrorism and border security operations to aid Kenya,” according to the network’s reporting.
But on August 26, 2019, an American flag was raised over Camp Simba, signifying the facility’s conversion from a tactical U.S. outpost to a permanent base of what the military called “enduring” operations, according to the CNN report.
Al-Shabab is highly active in eastern Africa, even though the militant group was forced out of its base in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, several years ago, according to Al-Jazeera. About one year ago, the terrorist group carried out an attack on an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
That attack killed 21 people, while earlier this week, Al-Shabab militants attacked a passenger bus in Lamu County — the site of Camp Simba — killing three people.