In a controversial story that is likely to elicit sharp reactions from the Kenyan government, the New York Times now claims that the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers hid in the grass and left the Americans alone during an attack by Al-Shabaab militants at Manda Bay.
“Many of the local Kenyan forces assigned to defend the base hid in the grass while other American troops and support staff were corralled into tents, with little protection to wait out the battle,” wrote the paper.
Details of the attack at Manda Airstrip on Manda Bay, which is a military base for both Kenyan and American forces by Al-Shabaab militants are still sketchy. Kenya Defense Forces said that the militants were repulsed and that no soldier died apart from four militants.
It later emerged that one American Army soldier and two Pentagon contractors died marking the “the largest number of US military fatalities” on African soil since the death of four soldiers in Niger in 2017.
Immediately after the attack, the Pentagon dispatched about 100 soldiers from 101st Airborn Division tasked with establishing the security of the base.
“It would require hours to evacuate one of the wounded to a military hospital in Djibouti, roughly 1,500 miles away,” writes the New York Times.
The article also seems to indicate that the Al-Shabaab militants were helped by workers within the camp to infiltrate and make the attack that “overwhelmed the American soldiers” as their Kenyan counterparts hid in the grass.
“The performance of the Kenyan security forces during and after the battle frustrated the American officials. At one point, the Kenyans announced that they had captured six of the attackers, but they all turned out to be bystanders and were released,” said the article.
There are about 200 American soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines, and about 100 Pentagon employees and contractors in Kenya who are helping and training local forces.