Shabaab claims deadly IED blast in Kenya

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, has claimed a deadly improvised explosive device (IED) ambush on Kenyan troops in coastal Lamu County.

At least five Kenyan soldiers were killed and another six were wounded after their vehicle encountered an IED near Bodhei yesterday in the Boni forest area of Lamu. Suspicion was quickly placed on the jihadist group, who officially claimed the ambush later in the day. On its Shahada News Agency, Shabaab claimed it killed 11 Kenyan troops in the blast. The statement was later republished and also translated into English by al Qaeda’s Global Islamic Media Front.

The Boni forest area is a stronghold of Shabaab and has been the location for many of its attacks inside Kenya. The Standard, a Kenyan news site, has stated that at least 100 Kenyan security forces have been killed by Shabaab in the Boni forest area alone in the last three years. The Kenyan Defense Forces have launched numerous operations in the area to rout Shabaab’s forces and garrisons, however, it is clear the jihadist group continues to utilize the Boni forest.

Apart from Lamu County, Shabaab also routinely claims attacks on Kenyan forces in Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera Counties. Tana River County has also witnessed Shabaab attacks. Last year, the al Qaeda branch ramped up its attack tempo inside Kenya.

It has also been behind several deadly massacres inside the country, such as a deadly terrorist attack on Garissa University in early 2015. The jihadists stormed the university and killed 148 people and wounded many more. In 2013, Shabaab also perpetrated the Westgate Mall siege in Nairobi. The US State Department recently updated its terror designation of Shabaab to include its Kenyan wing, Al Hijra, which has been responsible for recruiting and several major attacks inside the country.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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