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It was at 3:30 a.m when gunfire exchange was first heard in the Lamu region in Kenya. This was quickly followed by a plume of smoke. The gunfire continued until midmorning, and the aftermath was the deaths of two American contractors and a U.S. military service member.

Somalia’s al-Shabab militant group had attacked the popular coastal region. And the heavy gunfire was coming from Camp Simba on Manda Island, whereby the group detonated explosives. It lasted for hours, and according to a statement from the U.S. military, six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged alongside multiple military vehicles.

The attack into a foreign military compound is a rare successful intrusion

Hardly would al-Shabab get away with an attack in a military compound. They have never attempted even to attack one operating on the grounds of Somalia commonly used by U.S. Special Forces. Hence, the successful attack on Camp Simba has left the country wondering how it unfolded, given that it is the first to in a military camp.

It is not clear whether there were any Kenyan casualties in the predawn attack. Nonetheless, “The wounded Americans are currently in stable condition and being evacuated,” General Stephen Townsend, the U.S. Africa Command, reported.

The group has carried out a sequence of attacks in various regions

Al-Shabab group is headquartered in Somalia. In the last couple of years, it has carried out serious attacks in Somalia and Kenya. In December, it bombed Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killing close to 80 people.

In 2017, the group raided the Dusit hotel complex in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where 20 people were killed. Kenya has suffered more attacks, perhaps as a retaliation of having its troops in Somalia. Other attacks include ambushing passenger buses traveling to the Somali border.

Meanwhile, the operations of al-Shabab remain a mystery despite continued campaigns against it by the U.S. military. Its funding is well organized, and the bigger portions are from a protection racket of farmers and businessmen seeking protection for failure of paying taxes.

A civilian airport near Lamu Island has since been closed and secured. Townsend has also confirmed that they are committed to pursuing the perpetrators through the combined help from the African and international partners.