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The Pentagon announced late Sunday that one U.S. military service member and two U.S. contractors were killed in an predawn attack on Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya and two more contractors were wounded. The attack, claimed by Al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab, also destroyed several aircraft, reportedly including two Cessna private jets and two U.S. military helicopters, plus several other military vehicles. The U.S. trains East African forces at the airfield and attached base, Camp Simba, and carries out airstrikes on al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia.
Kenya's military said at least five al-Shabab militants were killed in the attack. It isn't clear how many Kenyan troops, if any, died. U.S. Africa Command said in a statement that the attack "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." The Pentagon dismissed al-Shabab's claim that its attack killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers. Al-Shabab tried to attack a U.S. base in Somalia earlier this year.
There are about 100 U.S. personnel at Camp Simba and another 500 in Somalia, according to Pentagon figures. The U.S. has stepped up attacks on al-Shabab since President Trump loosened rules of engagement in 2017. Trump, who has escalated tensions with Iran to the brink of war after an Iranian-backed militia killed one U.S. contractor, has not yet tweeted or publicly commented on the deaths in Kenya. Al-Shabab, a Sunni Muslim group, told The Associated Press "this attack was no way related to" Shiite Iran's calls for revenge after Trump authorized the killing of a powerful general and Iraq Shiite militia leaders and militants.
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