Al-Shabaab continues to cause havoc in East Africa despite defeats in Somalia

Africa
By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Al-Shabaab attack at US-Kenyan military base in Lamu has no links to the current impasse between the US and Iran, US military has said, adding that "Iranian involvement is not suspected.

The murder of General Qassem Soleimani, the powerful Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps head, has increased tensions between Tehran and Washington, reports indicate.

During his funeral on Monday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei prayed for Soleimani's remains with tears rolling his cheeks, AP reported.

“Oh Allah, they are in need of your mercy, and you are exalted above punishing your servants,” said the spiritual leader, as thousands watched from a distance.

Speakers called for "crushing revenge" against the US over the murder even as some mourners burnt American flags.

The attack not related to US-Iran squabbles

But through US Africa Command, the US has ruled out any involvement of Iran in Sunday's daring attack at Camp Simba, which was waged by Al-Shabaab militants.

AFRICOM said: "Contrary to various open-source reports, U.S. Africa Command does not assess yesterday’s attack by al-Shabaab is linked to Iran."

One US Serviceman and two American contractors working for the KDF died during the early morning attack at the base, AFRICOM said.

Two KDF troops, AFRICOM added, were critically injured and are currently undergoing specialized treatment in Nairobi.

Before the attack, the Somalia-based militants disconnected power within the vicinity and besieged the base, witnesses said.

Military equipment destroyed

Both US Marine and KDF troops suffered casualties, besides the destruction of seven aircraft used for surveillance, Al-Shabaab claimed.

A statement from KDF indicated that fine militants were killed on the spot besides recovery of sophisticated weapons such as RPG launchers, Garowe Online established.

While Iranian involvement is not suspected in the attack, the US said, "Africa Command has observed other nations, including Iran, seek increased influence in the Horn of Africa."

Pundits had associated the attack with Iran's threats against the US given that it targeted an American base within a friendly nation.

America has deployed nearly 200 troops in Kenya. Besides training, some who are usually in civilian, guard buildings of interest such as the US embassy.

But the US military desires to ensure Al-Shabaab "are not able to threaten the U.S. homeland, U.S. persons, international allies, or destabilize the region."

Al-Shabaab causing havoc in East Africa

The group has caused havoc within Somalia and her neighbors as it seeks to topple the UN-backed federal government for a decade now.

Al-Shabaab, US military added, was also responsible for the deadly attack a fortnight ago in a busy Mogadishu junction that left scores dead.

The attack targeted Turkish convoy near Afgoye junction along with Somali police who were guarding the vicinity, Al-Shabaab said.

"They were responsible for the December 28 attack against innocent civilians in Mogadishu, Somalia, claiming more than 80 lives," read the statement.

In October last year, Al-Shabaab militants tried to storm a US base at Ballidogle in Somalia but were repulsed by elite Danaab forces.

Trump's warning against Iran

President Donald Trump has threatened to "hit hard" should Iran retaliate against the US or her citizens anywhere in the world.

Trump, who ordered the death of Soleimani, said: "the media podcasts will serve as notification to the US Congress in case of an attack".

While his decision to eliminate Soleimani has been received well by Republicans, Democrats have faulted his actions terming them "unfortunate".

In a tweet on Monday, Trump laughed off plans by Iran to invest in nuclear weapons saying "Iran will never have a nuclear weapon".

 

Sunday's attack was the first on the US military on Kenyan soil. The US military often trains within the coastal region and the northern part of the country.

GAROWE ONLINE