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Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s Lamu region, killing three American citizens and destroying several aircraft.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command said in a statement.

Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.

The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

A police report states that two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Shabaab claimed to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.

Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

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