US army general denies being killed by Al-Shabaab in Lamu Base attack
WASHINGTON - A top US army general has dismissed reports indicating that he died on Sunday during a raid waged by Al-Shabaab militants in Kenya.
General Stephen Townsend, the commander of US Africa Command, termed the reports as "grossly exaggerated" propaganda.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack at Camp Simba, which left three Americans dead. One of the deceased was a US Marine Corp.
In a statement, the Somalia-based militants claimed that at least 17 US soldiers were killed along with nine troops from KDF.
But in a statement on Monday, Gen. Townsend accused Al-Shabaab of propagating falsehoods as self-defense for their "injustices and hate".
"Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated. This is another example of lies, propaganda and fake news coming from Al-Shabaab and their associates," he said.
The US has deployed over 7,000 troops across Africa under AFRICOM to safeguard her strategic interests in the continent.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper in December 2019 hinted at plans to scale down the troops with an option of withdrawal.
However, Townsend said the US shall continue working closely with allies in Africa to eradicate terrorists and their associates.
"AFRICOM continues to work with our partners to protect US interests and eradicate terrorists who wish to harm innocent people," he added.
Camp Simba attack also left military aircraft and other equipment destroyed. Two KDF soldiers were severely wounded, AFRICOM said.
Five terrorists were killed after almost six hours of the gunfight that also led to the recovery of sophisticated weapons, KDF revealed.
Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, from the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest, was among the three Americans killed in the early morning attack, Chicago's NBC affiliate reported.
"He loved his family and spending quality time with his siblings," Mayfield's mother, Carmoneta, told NBC 5 Sunday evening.
The identity of the two others will be revealed once the State Department informs the family or the kin, AFRICOM said.
Over 200 American soldiers are stationed in Kenya as part of the counterterrorism mission. Also, 100 nonuniformed officials are in the country.
Gen Stephen Townsend claimed the negative reports on social media about his alleged death are also being spread in Iran.
Tehran is at loggerheads with Washington following the murder of Gen Qassem Soleimani, the head of IRGC by the US soldiers.