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US-Kenya military base attacked by Al-Shabaab militants2 minutes read

The Al-Shabaab fighters attacked the military facility in the wee hours of Sunday claiming some deaths but the Kenyan army said the attack was repelled.

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Al Shabaab fighters seen here in Lamu, Kenya in a file photo. /Sokodirectory

A military base used by US and Kenyan forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region was on Sunday attacked by fighters from Somalia’s jihadist group, Al-Shabaab.

Kenya’s army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna said in a statement that at 5:30am “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip,” an AFP report said.

The strike on the base known as Camp Simba in Manda Bay is the latest by the group in Kenya since Nairobi sent troops across the border in 2011.

“The attempted breach was successfully repulsed. Four terrorists bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe. Arising from the unsuccessful breach a fire broke out affecting some of the fuel tanks located at the airstrip.” Njuguna said.

The army spokesman said the fire had been brought under control “and standard security procedures are now on-going.”

Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia also confirmed there had been an attack and said the militants “have been repulsed.”

“We are not sure if there are still remnants within,” he said.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base.”

The group said there had been both Kenyan and American casualties, however this could not be immediately verified.

Al-Shabaab said the attack was part of its “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) shall never be Judaized” campaign — a term it first used during an attack on the upscale Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi in January last year that left 21 people dead.

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya, in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people. 

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

The Lamu region, close to the Somali border, has been plagued by attacks from Al-Shabaab, with frequent strikes along the frontier notably targeting security forces with roadside bombs.

In their November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday at least three people were killed when suspected Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities.”

US military strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities.”

In an April statement, US military command for Africa, AFRICOM, said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

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East Africa News

Nine airlifted from Mogadishu to Turkey following terrorist attack

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Nine people injured in a car bomb attack that occurred on Saturday in Afgoye, thirty kilometres north west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, were airlifted to Turkey on Tuesday morning for treatment. The airlift is the second medical evacuation of bomb attack victims in less than four weeks. Twenty one people were injured in the Afgoye attack that targeted Turkish construction workers who were having lunch with local police.

Turkey’s ambassador to Somalia, Mehmet Yilmaz confirmed that the nine to receive treatment in Turkey are three Turkish nationals and six Somalis. 

While speaking at a news conference in Mogadishu, he reiterated that his country would continue to support Somalia despite a spate of recent attacks by Islamist group… al-Shabaab. 

“This will not stop us from helping Somalia. We shall continue to work. Somalia and Turkey have good relations,” Yilmaz said.

A separate group of Turkish engineers constructing a road were among those hurt in a bombing that killed at least ninety people in December 2019.

On this matter, Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, met with the Turkish ambassador to Somalia and other officials in Mogadishu. He assured of his government’s commitment to providing adequate security for Turkish nationals.

“We thank our Turkish brothers for their support. The Somali government will take any action necessary to ensure the security of Turkish nationals,” Hassan Ali Khaire said.

Turkey has been a major donor to the Horn of Africa nation since 2011. It is involved in various initiatives such as military training, infrastructure development of roads, hospitals and amenities as well as other donor efforts.

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East Africa News

U.S. conducts airstrike against al-Shabaab

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The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), in support of the Federal Government of Somalia, conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorists who engaged the Somali National Army, Danab Unit, near Bangeeni on Sunday, January 19. According to a statement from AFRICOM, the airstrike killed three militants.   

“This airstrike targeted al-Shabaab fighters who pose a direct, immediate, and significant threat to our partner forces,” said Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the director of operation, U.S. Africa Command. “Al-Shabaab consists of terrorists and criminals who seek to export hate and violence more broadly. We remain committed to supporting our Somali partners and the security progress; together we are building in the region.”   

The US military unit stationed in Africa aims to provide auxiliary support to the government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to increase security and seize ground from the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabaab.

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Aston Villa sign Tanzania captain Mbwana Samatta

27-year-old becomes first Tanzanian to play in the English Premier League

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English Premier league side Aston Villa have completed the signing of Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta for £10m on a four-and-half-year deal, subject to a work permit and international clearance.

The 27-year-old scored 10 goals for Genk in all competitions this season including a goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Villa manager Dean Smith hailed the signing “I’m really pleased we have managed to bring Mbwana to the club, he has scored goals throughout his career and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Samatta makes history as the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League but will be unavailable for Villa’s home match against Watford on Tuesday.

Samatta who is captain of the Tanzanian national side expressed his joy at making the move “I’m so excited, it’s a huge step for me in my career. It’s a big step for the country too. Everyone was looking for a Tanzanian to play in the Premier League.

“I know a lot about Aston Villa. I used to watch Gabby Agbonlahor when he was here.”

Samatta is Villa’s third signing of the January transfer window following loan signings of midfielder Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea and goalkeeper Pepe Reina from AC Milan.

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