On 5 January 2020, the Somali terrorist organisation al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida group in East Africa, attacked Manda Bay airfield (US Camp Simba), a joint Kenyan forces / U.S. Africa Command base on Kenyan soil. One United States service member, two Department of Defense contractors and several Kenyan casualties have been reported.
Reports say that during the attack a US C-146 Wolfhound and a heavily modified Dash 8-202 (registration N8200L, construction number 455) spy plane were destroyed. Kenyan press reports added that – next to the U.S. casualties – and Kenyan casualties, a Kenyan aircraft, two U.S. helicopters and several vehicles have been destroyed.
U.S. Statement on Manda Bay Terrorist Attack
During an attack by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida group in East Africa, earlier today, one (1) U.S. service member and two (2) Department of Defense contractors were killed at a Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya.
In addition, two (2) Department of Defense members were wounded. The wounded Americans are currently in stable condition and being evacuated.
At this time, the names of the fallen and the wounded are being withheld as part of the next of kin notification process. Out of respect for the families of the fallen and injured, we ask that everyone respect their privacy during this difficult time. The Department of Defense is fully committed to providing the families of the fallen dedicated care, service, and support.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” said U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “As we honor their sacrifice, let’s also harden our resolve. Alongside our African and international partners, we will pursue those responsible for this attack and al-Shabaab who seeks to harm Americans and U.S. interests. We remain committed to preventing al-Shabaab from maintaining a safe haven to plan deadly attacks against the U.S. homeland, East African, and international partners.”
Al-Shabaab senior leaders pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and are believed to have trained and fought in Afghanistan. In 2008, the U.S. Government designated al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Historically, al-Shabaab has been willing to engage large forces, often using surprise and asymmetric tactics. The terrorist group has expressed the intent to attack the United States homeland and target Americans, but U.S. persistent pressure placed on them constrains their ability to carry out those desires.
The attack on the compound today involved indirect and small arms fire. After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and U.S. Africa Command repelled the al-Shabaab attack. Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree. Manda Bay Airfield is utilized by U.S. forces whose missions include providing training to our African partners, responding to crises, and protecting U.S. interests in this strategically important area.
“The work that our U.S. forces are doing in East Africa bolsters partnerships, counters malign influence, and maintains critical pressure on terrorist networks,” said Townsend. “Our efforts directly contribute to counterterrorism, maritime surveillance, and intelligence sharing missions with our Kenyan partners. This activity enables enhanced security and stability in the region and for America.”
The desired end state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the U.S. homeland, U.S. persons, international allies, or destabilize the region.