A 23-year-old United States Army Specialist from Chicago was killed when al-Shabaab attacked a military base in Kenya, according to his family.
The U.S. military’s Africa Command confirmed that one American soldier and two Department of Defense (DOD) contractors were killed in the incident. Two other Pentagon workers were injured in the assault, which Africa Command blamed on the terrorist organization.
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 that 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.”
The Manda Bay base is an area where American forces provide training and counter-terrorism support for its East African partners, Africa Command noted.
Al-Shabaab is based in Somalia, and it has been blamed for numerous terrorist attacks in the region.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” said U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, the chief of Africa Command. “As we honor their sacrifice, let’s also harden our resolve. Alongside our African and international partners, we will pursue those responsible for this attack and al-Shabaab who seeks to harm Americans and the United States’ interests. We remain committed to preventing al-Shabaab from maintaining a safe haven to plan deadly attacks against the United States homeland, East African, and international partners.”
Earlier on Sunday, the military said that the United States and Kenyan forces were able to repel the al-Shabaab assault.
“Al-Shabaab resorts to lies, coercion, and the exertion of force to bolster their reputation to create false headlines,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler in a statement. “It is important to counter al-Shabaab where they stand to prevent the spread of this cancer.”
The Kenya Defence Forces issued a statement saying “the attempted breach was successfully repulsed,” and that four “terrorists [sic] bodies” were found.
The Manda Bay attack follows a truck bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Dec. 28 that left at least 80 people dead. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.