A dawn terrorist attack on a military base used by U.S. troops in Kenya has left one American soldier dead, and also killed two independent contractors working for the U.S. Department of Defense, according to a statement issued Sunday by the U.S. Africa Command. The statement was posted on Twitter by the African Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.
In the statement, the U.S. also said that two more Americans, who are Department of Defense employees, were wounded in the attack, and are now listed in stable condition.
Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremist terror group, took responsibility for the attack. In an earlier statement, the Somalia-based group claimed that it had inflicted "severe casualties on both American and Kenyan troops" at the base.
A statement by the U.S. Africa Command appeared to scoff at the terror group's public claims.
"Al-Shabaab has put out multiple press releases exaggerating the security situation on the ground," the statement read. "This practice has proven commonplace for this terror organization."
Army Major General William Gayler, director of operations for the Africa Command, was quoted in the statement saying that Al-Shabaab "resorts to lies, coercion, and the exertion of force" to create "false headlines" that boost its reputation. Gayler went on to call the group a "brutal terrorist organization," and added that "U.S. presence in Africa is critically important" to oppose Al-Shabaab terror operations.The U.S. soldier, contractors, and Defense Department employees who were killed or wounded have not been identified because their next of kin had not yet been notified as of Sunday morning, according to the Africa Command statements.
The Africa Command also said that there was damage to infrastructure and equipment at the Manda Bay Airfield, according to an NBC News report.
The statements also said that an attempt to breach a security perimeter at the base by the Al-Shabaab attackers had been repelled, and the airfield had been cleared while security measures were in the process of being restored. Six civilian aircraft, used by contractors, were damaged in the attack, the Africa Command said.
The U.S. forces at Manda Bay provide training and counter-terrorism support to Kenyan and other East African troops, according to the Africa Command statements, which also said that Al-Shabaab plans to target Americans and even stage attacks on the U.S. homeland.
Persistent pressure on the terrorist group by American forces in Africa has prevented Al-Shabaab from acting on those plans, the U.S. Africa Command claimed in the statements.