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US military generals visit troops in Kenya after Al-Shabaab raid

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online
In this photo taken Aug. 26, 2019 and released by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sidney Dellinger, 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron materiel management journeyman, and Staff Sgt. Corey Smith, 475th EABS heating, ventilation, and air conditioning non-commissioned officer in charge, perform flag detail during a ceremony signifying the change from tactical to enduring operations at Camp Simba, Manda Bay, Kenya. The al-Shabab extremist group said Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 that it has attacked the Camp Simba military base used by U.S. and Kenyan troops in coastal Kenya, while Kenya’s military says the attempted pre-dawn breach was repulsed and at least four attackers were killed. (Staff Sgt. Lexie West/U.S. Air Force via AP)

NAIROBI, Kenya - Top military generals from the US army on Thursday visited troops in Kenya, barely a week after Al-Shabaab raid, Gen Stephen Townsend has confirmed.

On Jan 5th, an unknown number of Al-Shabaab militants raided Camp Simba in Manda Bay which hosts elite troops from the US army and KDF.

Three US citizens among them a Serviceman were killed during the daring attack, US Africa Command under Gen Townsend said.

Al-Shabaab fighters based in Somalia also destroyed sophisticated weapons and aircraft used by US troops in counterterrorism missions across East Africa, AFRICOM added.

Generals to establish facts on the attack

To establish facts about the attack, Townsend said, "I immediately sent members of my command team to hear directly from our troops and commanders."

Five Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the daring operation that took over six hours before the base was secured by security forces, KDF said.

Although KDF denied casualties on the Kenyan side, investigations show that a casual laborer was killed by the militants during the raid.

Townsend said his team will assess the situation before ground troops get required support for the delicate operation in securing East Africa.

"I want ground truth to assess the situation and hear from the troops to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their mission," he said.

As the circumstances surrounding this attack are investigated, he added: "our deepest condolences remain with the families of our fallen teammates. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten."

Those in the delegation include Maj. Gen Michael Turello who is a commander at AFRICOM, Brig. Gen Leonard Kosinski and Command Master Chief Ryan Burton.

Al-Shabaab lies and propaganda

In a statement, Al-Shabaab termed the attack "successful and daring", adding that both the US and Kenya suffered casualties.

The Somalia-based militants assessed that at least 17 US Marine corps and 9 KDF troops were killed, a claim disputed by US military.

But Townsend said: "Al-Shabaab is ruthless and must be dealt with before the network expands its reach to other places."

Following the Jan. 5 attacks, Al-Shabaab continues to spread its hateful ideology, violence, and its desire to control territory, he noted.

"Al-Shabaab spreads lies and spills innocent blood," said Townsend, adding: "I've dealt with this type of enemy before. They need to be stopped."

More troops deployed to Kenya

Hours after the attack, the US deployed more troops to the coastal strip of Kenya to give reinforcements, a move aimed at strengthening security in the region.

The East Africa Response Force (EARF) helped troops to secure the base, including the Manda Airstrip which plays an important role in the Kenyan economy.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned that "we shall pursue those criminal Al-Shabaab elements and ensure victims get justice."

Sunday's attack was the first targeting a US base in Kenya, even though there have have been previous attacks against the US at her embassy in Kenya.

Surveillance increased in Nairobi

Nairobi beefed up security in buildings associated with the US and Israel, to avert possible terror attack following Washington standoff with Tehran.

Kenya has continued to suffer under the Al-Shabaab militants despite numerous gains by KDF in Somalia. Last month alone, over six incidents were recorded.

Already, six Kenyan nationals and two Cuban doctors are yet to be rescued from the militants who abducted them last year.

Ahmed Omar, the Al-Shabaab leader, warned the US against the establishment of her base in Somalia, besides raising questions about airstrikes.

Al-Shabaab warns of more raids

In a statement on Sunday, the militants also warned of possible attacks against Kenya and the US, calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops.

“Withdraw all your forces from our Muslim lands while you still have the chance," the Al-Qaida associates said, adding, "Otherwise brace yourselves for the worst and prepare for perilous times ahead."

The group warned that it could now target tourists in strategic points, adding that it will not tolerate the occupation of Muslim land.

While giving a hint of the attacks, Al-Shabaab further said, "Kenya will never be safe and Kenyans will never sleep soundly at night."


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