Kenyan police arrested three men suspected of breaking into a British army camp in central Kenya on the same day Islamist insurgents attacked a base used by US and Kenyan forces, according to a police report seen by Reuters.
The failed break-in at Laikipia, where the British army trains 10 000 troops a year, was captured on security camera. Three men were subsequently arrested and questioned by anti-terrorism officers, the police report said.
It is not clear whether the attempt to break into the British base was connected to the attack on the Camp Simba base in Manda Bay that killed three Americans. Somali Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for that attack and posted pictures of fighters posing next to planes in flames.
The deadly attack came only days after the United States said it was tightening security at its bases following threats from Iran to retaliate for a US air strike that killed its most prominent military commander.
Al Shabaab contacted media organisations, including Reuters, to stress Sunday’s attack was not connected to Iran.
“This Kenya attack has no connection with the Middle East attack. It is a fight between us and the U.S.,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab spokesman for military operations.
AL QAEDA TIES
The insurgent group, which wants to oust Somalia’s UN-backed government, is seeking to broaden its regional reach and reaffirm ties with al Qaeda, which it first pledged allegiance to in 2012, analysts said.
Al Shabaab has recruitrf Kenyans and other East Africans to launch attacks beyond Somali borders, said Matt Bryden, the founder of Nairobi-based think-tank Sahan Research.
“We heard chatter three months ago that al Shabaab was planning intensive cross-border operations and identified commanders to lead those,” Bryden said.
Al Shabaab used the phrase “Jerusalem will never be Judaised” when announcing Sunday’s attack on the Simba base at Lamu and during an attack a year ago on the upscale Riverside hotel and office complex in Nairobi.
“That is likely a signal of continuing loyalty to al Qaeda,” said Bryden.
Kenyan security forces killed five attackers and arrested five following the early morning attack on Sunday, the military spokesman and Lamu county commissioner said.
Photographs circulating among security specialists and seen by Reuters showed five dead men in fatigues with military-standard boots on a concrete slab next to the insurgency’s trademark black flag and an assortment of weapons that included grenades and a machinegun.
The attackers managed to damage six aircraft and breach the perimeter of the base before being repulsed, US Africa Command said in a statement. They killed a US serviceman, two American contractors and wounded two Americans working for the Department of Defence, the statement said.
The Kenyan military does not typically release details of its casualties.
Tom Munyalo, an artist witha workshop 350 metres from Simba base, told Reuters there was an unusual power cut that night.
He went outside at 4 am after hearing vehicles approach. They stopped briefly near his water tank to release a man who ran away from the base, he said.
Moments later, he heard gunfire and shouts “Takbir! Takbir!” an Arabic expression for “God is greatest”.