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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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Heavy rains threaten Uganda’s coffee crop quality

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Uganda’s coffee crop quality could see a decline in the coming months as heavy rains across the country have reduced the amount of sunshine necessary for bean drying.

Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of coffee followed by Ethiopia and grows mostly robusta variety.

The country has been pounded by unusually heavy rains that started in August resulting in deaths, displacement and extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.

Western Uganda, including the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains , some of the biggest coffee growing areas, has received some of the most intense rains.

Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the state-run regulator, forecasts Uganda’s bean exports will climb 16 percent to 5.1 million 60-kg (132-pound) bags in the current crop year ending September.

The country’s coffee output has surged in recent years, the fruition of a government programme that has been distributing free seedlings to farmers to expand acreage and replace aging trees.

Authorities say their target is to help boost annual production to 20 million bags by 2025.

The beans have traditionally been Uganda’s biggest commodity export but were recently overtaken by gold which now annually earns the country over $1 billion.

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Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement

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Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.

The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.

“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.

AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.

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Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad

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Over 2,500 Ugandan nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic can now return home as approved by the Ugandan cabinet.

The cabinet on Monday, agreed that Ugandan nationals trapped in 66 countries can return home at their own cost.

The government is making arrangements with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to fly the stranded citizens home, Judith Nabakooba, the country’s minister for information, communication technology and national guidance says, adding that all the returning citizens will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine. 

President Yoweri Museveni last month, directed Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to study the possibility of evacuating dozens of citizens stranded abroad amid Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions. 

To contain the spread of Covid-19, the country on March 22 suspended all incoming flights, except cargo flights. 

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