Eight People Injured in Grenade Attack in Northern Kenya

At least one Christian among eight non-Muslims hit.

Street in Mandera in northeast Kenya. (Wikipedia)

Street in Mandera in northeast Kenya. (Wikipedia)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A grenade attack in northern Kenya last week injured eight people, including at least one Christian, in an area where Somali Islamic extremists launched deadly anti-Christian attacks in December and November, sources said.

The grenade landed among the non-Somali workers as they arrived to eat at the Moyale Hotel in Mandera on Thursday (Feb. 5) at about 7 p.m., injuring two of them critically. In the December and November attacks, members of Somali rebel Al Shabaab separated out Kenyan Christians from Somali Muslims and executed the non-Muslims.

One of the victims of Thursday’s attack, Frederick (surname withheld for security reasons), said from his hospital bed that he was a Christian whose right leg was seriously injured in the explosion. After the grenade exploded he was also shot, leaving injuries to his stomach, chest and hand.

Originally from western Kenya, Frederick and the other seven had arrived from outside the area to work at a new bakery scheduled to open next to the hotel on Friday (Feb. 6). Having left the area after last year’s attacks, the workers had returned to Mandera after receiving assurances that security had been restored.

“The hand grenade was thrown less than 10 minutes after we left the bakery premises,” he told a Morning Star News contact at Mandera General Hospital.

The blast broke the leg of another one of the workers, sources said.

Al Shabaab took responsibility for the killing of 28 people, including 19 Christians, who had boarded a bus in Mandera on Nov. 22 and for the execution of 36 workers at a nearby quarry on Dec. 2.

“This incident that has taken place in the new year of 2015 is a signal that things are not good for us non-Muslims,” an area pastor told Morning Star News. “We need a lot of security.”

County Police Commander Job Boronjo said officers searching for the assailants believe they were still in the town.

“Security officials are currently on high alert following information of a planned attack by Al Shabaab in the region,” he said. “Police are looking for suspects reportedly from Somalia on a mission to cause havoc in the country.”

This attack occurred as non-Somali teachers from outside the area were refusing to resume duties because of dangers from local residents, which includes Al Shabaab and its Somali sympathizers. The Somali rebel group had said the November and December attacks came in revenge for police raids on mosques in Kenya, suspected as recruitment centers for terrorists, and for Kenya’s military involvement in forces fighting Al Shabaab rebels in Somalia.

In the week prior to the Nov. 22 attack, 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 the 2013 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.

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 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, 2014, 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, 2014, 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, 2014 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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