Workers evacuate Kenya port site after raid on US base

Lamu Port construction. Credit: LAPSSET

More than 2,000 workers have evacuated the China Communication Construction Company (CCCC)-operated Lamu port construction site after the Salafi al-Shabaab militant group overran a nearby US-Kenyan military base. 

CCCC instructed workers to down tools and steer clear of the site until at least 13 January, at which point assurances of Lamu Port’s security and the safety of the 2,000 construction workers could presumably be attained. A memo issued to CCCC workers and obtained by Kenya’s state news service KNA instructed that “All employees are to leave the site and go home immediately and wait for the notice to open the site.” 

The 5 January attack on Camp Simba, a military base and airfield, claimed the lives of two US military contractors and US soldier according to US Africa Command; two fixed-wing Cessna aircraft were destroyed along with two US helicopters and multiple US vehicles at the Manda Bay military airstrip. 

Claims from Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab group themselves indicated that nine Kenyan soldiers were also killed, and 17 US soldiers were injured.  

Reports in AP suggest that five of the militants were killed, and five arrested for interrogation. 

Officials from the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) told KNA that the national government has given assurances that all government installations are being given the requisite protection from further attacks. Abdullahi Samatar, general manager of infrastructure development at KPA and Lamu Port general manager, told KNA: “Consultations are currently under way to ensure that the suspension is lifted immediately.”  

Lamu county commissioner Macharia Irungu told KNA: “The national government would like to assure the CCCC that although their concerns are founded, we have the capacity to ensure that no attack happens on our key installations at the crucial Lamu Port.”