Following a terrorist attack by an affiliate to al-Qaeda, more U.S. military forces arrived in Kenya, according to a statement from Africa Command.
The U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa Response Force (EARF) arrived at the Manda Bay base to “augment security to secure the airfield after an attack by al-Shabaab terrorists,” Africa Command said in a statement on Monday.
At least two Department of Defense (DOD) personnel and one Army soldier were killed in the attack on Sunday, said officials.
“The EARF provides a critical combat-ready, rapid deployment force,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler in the statement. “The EARF’s ability to respond to events spanning a vast area of responsibility provides a proven and invaluable on-call reinforcement capability in times of need.”
The attack on Sunday morning came after a Dec. 28 attack in Mogadishu by al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based organization that has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the region over the past decade or so. In that incident, at least 80 people died, according to the military.
Henry Mayfield Jr. was killed in an attack launched by al-Shabaab at Manda Bay Airfield, his family told local media outlets in Chicago. His family said the military told them of his death.
“He loved his family and spending quality time with his siblings,” Carmoneta, Mayfield’s mother, said in a statement. “I last spoke with him New Year’s Day via FaceTime. We discussed him not having to go to Somalia and he told me everything was good and safe at his base. He told me everything would be okay. Those were his last words to me.”
“Contrary to various open-source reports, U.S. Africa Command does not assess yesterday’s attack by al-Shabaab is linked to Iran,” African Command added in the statement. “While Iranian involvement is not suspected in the attack, U.S. Africa Command has observed other nations, including Iran, seek increased influence in the Horn of Africa.”
On Friday, the U.S. carried out airstrikes that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Top Iranian officials have vowed for revenge in the wake of his death, which prompted counter-threats from President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The military also issued a statement from its commanding officer, Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, about false rumors saying that he was killed by al-Shabaab.
“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” Townsend said. “This is yet another example of the lies, propaganda and fake news coming from al-Shabaab and other malign actors such as Iran and its proxies.”