An unidentified member of the U.S. military and two defense department contracts were killed Sunday in an attack by the al-Qaida-afililated terrorist group al-Shabaab in Kenya, officials have confirmed.
Two other U.S. military members were also wounded in the attack, officials with U.S. Africa Command said in a statement. They are being evacuated from the region and are in stable condition.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today," said Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of AFRICOM, said in a statement. "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."
The attack took place early Sunday at Manda Bay airfield. According to earlier Associated Press reports, U.S. aircraft and vehicles were destroyed and the situation remained "fluid" as Kenyans and Americans worked to secure the airfield. At least four members of al-Shabaab were killed, according to the reports. The militant group issued statements describing "intense close-quarters combat" against U.S. personnel.
AFRICOM's latest statement did not include a full accounting of the damage done in the attack, but officials said it 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," AFRICOM officials said. "Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree."
According to the Associated Press, there are under 100 U.S. personnel at Camp Simba, colocated with Manda Bay.
The names of the fallen have been withheld pending a 24-hour next-of-kin notification window.
Al-Shabaab was designated a terrorist organization in 2008. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, it was most recently implicated in the death of a U.S. service member in June 2018, when it took credit for an attack that killed a Green Beret in Somalia.
"The work that our U.S. forces are doing in East Africa bolsters partnerships, counters malign influence, and maintains critical pressure on terrorist networks," Townsend said. "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."
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.