US NATIONAL KILLED

Manda attack: US thinks Kenya aided Shabaab

KDF rubbishes claims, questions sources 'as probe is ongoing and no info let out'

In Summary

• Paper claimed that Kenyans announced they had captured six al Shabaab members, 'but they all turned out to be bystanders and were released'. 

• New York Times further claimed that Kenyan soldiers at the camp hid in the grass when the terrorists raided the base. 

The Manda Bay attack.
TERROR: The Manda Bay attack.
Image: FILE

US authorities are reportedly investigating if Kenyan workers helped Shabaab terrorists access Camp Simba in Manda Bay during an attack on January 5 where three people were killed. 

The New York Times claimed in an article published on Wednesday that there was a possibility Kenyans working at the base could have helped the terrorists.

“Investigators are looking at the possibility the attackers had help from Kenyan staff on the base. The performance of the Kenyan security forces during and after the battle frustrated American officials,” NYT said in the article. 

KDF spokesman Paul Njunguna rubbished the claims and questioned where the paper obtained the information they published.

Njunguna explained that both the Kenyan and the US authorities are still on the ground investigating the incident and no report has been produced.

“The article itself has said investigations are ongoing. No finding has been shared,” Njunguna said. 

He added, “We have people on the ground, this is a meticulous exercise. It leaves nothing to chance. If the report comes out, we will be able to speak to it. This report [article] is premature.”

The article will likely draw criticism from Kenyans and the government over the manner in which it is painting the soldiers who have been fighting the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists since 2011. 

International media has been criticised in the past for painting Kenya and the African continent in a negative light. 

Late last year, British broadcaster Sky News claimed that the man who fell from a Kenya Airways flight headed for Heathrow Airport, London, in June last year was a Kenyan they identified as Paul Manyasi.

It later pulled down the story and apologised after Manyasi’s parents refuted the claims and said their son was alive. Kenyan authorities also rubbished the story.

During the Manda Bay attack, one US service member and two contractors were killed. Two Department of Defence members were wounded. 

NYT further claimed that Kenyan soldiers at the camp hid in the grass when the terrorists raided the base. 

“Many of the local Kenyan forces, assigned to defend the base, hid in the grass while other American troops and support were corralled into tents, with little protection, to wait out the battle,” NYT said in the article.

The article sneered at the Kenyan Defence Forces inability or lack of preparation that exposed the American soldier and staff at the camp.  

It claimed that Kenyans announced they had captured six al Shabaab members, 'but they all turned out to be bystanders and were released'. 

On the morning of the attack, the paper says, contractor pilots Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64, were taxiing their Beechcraft King Air 350 on Manda Bay’s tarmac. 

"They throttled down their engines, according to one person familiar with the attack. The two men reported that they saw animals darting across the runway. They were wrong. The animals were in fact Shabaab fighters, who had infiltrated the base’s outer perimeter — a poorly defended fence line — before heading to the base’s airstrip," the article reads. 

It says that the twin-propeller Beechcraft, loaded with sensors and video equipment for surveillance, began to taxi, the Shabaab fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the plane, killing Harrison and Triplett. 

"With the plane on fire, a third contractor, badly burned in the rear of the aircraft, crawled out to safety," it states.

The United States deployed one of its top elite military units to guard its interests off the Kenyan Coast immediately after the attack.

NYT says that on January 9, Senior US Africa Command officials visited partner forces and American troops stationed at Camp Simba and Manda Bay Airfield.

US Africa Commander Gen Stephen Townsend directed an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack. 

"I want ground truth to assess the situation and hear from the troops to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their mission.," Townsend said on January 9. 

Edited by R.Wamochie