NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Members of the Islamic extremist insurgent group Al Shabaab early this morning killed 36 non-Muslims, most of them Christian, in an attack in northern Kenya, sources said.
Coming 10 days after the Somali insurgents’ assault in the same area that left 28 non-Muslims dead, including 19 Christians, today’s massacre triggered the firing of Kenya’s Interior minister and the resignation of the national police chief.
In the assault on a laborer tent camp shortly after midnight at a quarry in Kormey, 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Mandera on the border with Somalia, Al Shabaab rebels from Somalia separated out the non-Muslims and shot most of them at close range in the head. At least two were beheaded, and the rebels drove several of the workers to the Somali border before executing them.
“Some heads were separated from the rest of the bodies,” an eyewitness told a Morning Star News source. “I could not gaze for long for I feared for my life, hence I fled for my life to Mandera town.”
Area church leaders said most of those killed were from the Roman Catholic Church, along with members of the the Anglican Church, the Redeemed Gospel Church and the Seventh-day Adventist church.
“The quarry workers hail from outside Mandera County and are non-Muslim,” an area church leader told Morning Star News. “The attackers knew this very well, that they were attacking non-Muslims.”
Another area Christian said those killed were hard-working, innocent people.
“They were working hard for their families back at home to get money for Christmas celebration,” he said. “Innocent and helpless people were attacked while sleeping.”
Police said the workers were attacked as they were sleeping in tents at the site at around 1 a.m. Those killed were from counties in central and eastern Kenya.
Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the massacre, saying it was vengeance for recent police raids on mosques in Kenya and Kenyan military involvement in displacing the Islamic extremist militants from Somalia.
Another attack happened earlier at 8 p.m. in Wajir, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Mandera, killing one person and wounding 13 others.
Three gunmen stormed Ngamia Club, a government owned establishment near the Wajir police station, and opened fire on those who were assumed to be non-Muslims because they were presumed to be drinking alcohol, a local source told Morning Star News. Boniface Daae was shot dead from a bullet that went through his back, the source said.
Kenya Police spokesperson Zipporah Mboroki said that three others – Kevin Ojwang, Tom Gikundi and John Muchiri – were admitted to a hospital in serious condition. The wounded are all non-Muslims.
“Muslims associate the club with Christianity,” a source told Morning Star News. “The Muslims do not go there as most of them are against drinking of alcohol. Those drinking at the club had extra money to spend as compared with those killed at Kormey quarry, who were working very hard to get food for their children.”
After the club attack, the gunmen tried to attack the Kenya Power Sub-station, but officers fired at them and forced them to flee.
After the Nov. 22 attack, Al Shabaab said its members carried out the massacre in retaliation for recent mosque raids.
In the prior week police raided and closed four mosques in Mombasa that they said were recruitment centers for Islamic terrorists; police said they discovered explosives in the raids and killed a young Muslim who threw a grenade at them. Police were suspected in last year’s killing of mosque leader Ibrahim Omar, suspected of recruiting Islamic terrorists at one of the mosques.
The population of Kenya is 83 percent Christian, though only 7 percent are active in churches, according to Operation World. Only about 8 percent of Kenya’s population is Muslim.
Kenyan officials said the military responded to the killings with air strikes the same day (Nov. 22) on the assailants’ camp in Somalia that killed at least 45 rebels.
In 2011 Kenya joined African Union forces battling the Al Shabaab insurgents after a series of Somali attacks on tourists and other targets in northern Kenya, and since then Al Shabaab has carried out several retaliatory attacks on Kenyan soil.
On Oct. 19, 2013, suspected Islamic extremists in Mombasa killed pastor Charles “Patrick” Matole of Vikwantani Redeemed Gospel Church. Matole had received death threats. The murder came a few weeks after rioting in Mombasa by Muslims enraged at the killing of sheikh Ibrahim Omar and three others on a road near Mombasa (see Morning Star News, Oct. 7, 2013).
During the riots, Muslim youths from the Masjid Musa Mosque shouting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater]” set fire to the Salvation Army Church building in the Majengo area. They accused police of killing the hard-line Islamist sheikh, and in the police response to the rampaging Muslim youths, including officers’ efforts to stop them from attacking a Pentecostal church in Mombasa, four people were reportedly killed and several others wounded.
Omar had been a student of sheikh Aboud Rogo, also mysteriously killed in his vehicle in August 2012, who had been accused of aiding in recruitment and funding for Al Shabaab. At the Musa mosque, some 200 meters from the Salvation Army Church building, Omar reportedly issued incendiary sermons against non-Muslims.
According to Kenya’s National Intelligence Service, the imam had invited jihadists from Somalia to bomb targets in Nairobi and Mombasa in retaliation for the killing of Rogo. The same Salvation Army Church building was set ablaze in 2012 in response to the killing of Rogo.
Al Shabaab took responsibility for the assault on the Westgate Shopping Mall on Sept. 21, 2013, which killed at least 67 people with dozens still unaccounted for. The assailants killed those they could identify as non-Muslims.
Al Shabaab rebels attacked a predominantly Christian town on Kenya’s coast on June 15, selecting out Christian males as they killed more than 57 people. The estimated 50 Al Shabaab militants attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Somali border, in a five-hour assault with guns and grenades.
Sources told Morning Star News the assailants were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater]” and killing whoever could not recite verses from the Koran. Al Shabaab reportedly took responsibility for the attack, saying it was to avenge Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia and the killing of Muslims.
On March 23, gunmen entered a Sunday morning worship service in Mombasa County and sprayed the congregation with bullets, killing at least seven Christians and leaving several others in critical condition. Two heavily-armed men wounded more than a dozen of the 200-member Joy in Jesus Church in the Likoni area of Mombasa, where a mosque said to have ties with the Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab has caused tensions.
No one has taken responsibility for the attack, which reportedly involved a third gunman outside the church building shooting at Christians fleeing the attack. Church leaders suspected Islamic extremists had carried it out in reprisal for a raid by armed police on the Masjid Musa Mosque (now Masjid Shuhada, or “Martyrs Mosque”) on Feb. 2, in which more than 100 Muslims were arrested and at least two were killed; most of those detained have been released.
Suspected Islamic extremists likely killed Lawrence Kazungu Kadenge, 59, an assistant pastor at Glory of God Ministries Church, in the Majengo area of Mombasa on Feb. 2 for sharing his faith near the Musa mosque and alerting authorities to security threats, sources said. Some youths reportedly raised the black flag of Al Shabaab at the mosque that day, when the raid by authorities touched off riots.
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