Christian Killed in Islamic Extremist Attack in Northeastern Kenya

Suspected Al Shabaab rebels shoot two people to death.

Kenya's North Eastern Province. (Wikipedia)

Kenya’s North Eastern Province. (Wikipedia)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Al Shabaab militants are suspected in the killing of two people, at least one a Christian, in a May 12 gun attack in northeastern Kenya, sources said.

Five suspected rebels from the Somali Islamic extremist group targeted non-Muslim quarry workers in El Wak, near the Somali border in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, in the early morning at the workers’ company-owned quarters, a Christian leader told Morning Star News. He said quarry worker Dalama Otieno, a member of an area East African Pentecostal Church congregation, died from gunshot wounds to the head.

An area resident told Morning Star News that the assailants used a jihadist slogan during the assault.

“I heard them say, ‘Allah Akbar [God is Greater]’, and then followed gunshots,” he said.

A second worker, unidentified at this writing but assumed to be a non-Muslim Kenyan like nearly all the quarry employees, died of gunshot wounds to the chest, the Christian leader said. Predominantly Christian workers from Kenya’s interior have been targeted in a series of Al Shabaab attacks that have shaken Christian communities in Kenya’s northeast.

Area residents reported seeing unfamiliar visitors in El Wak the night before the attack.

“We have warned our church members to leave the volatile area, which has been a black spot prone to Al Shabaab attacks,” the Christian leader told Morning Star News. “This is the area that led to the massacre of 28 teachers a few years ago.”

Rebels from Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011 in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.

“These Al Shabbab militants have made some of our Christians to be their scapegoats, as they see Kenya as a Christian country that is fighting to rid Al Shabaab from Somalia,” the Christian leader said.

El Wak is a key supply line to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces that have retaken territory from Al Shabaab insurgents in Somalia. The jihadist rebels have retaliated with attacks on Kenya’s northeast. Al Shabaab is suspected of killing administrative chief Dekow Abbey Sirat and abducting two police reservists on Monday night (May 15) in the Omar Jillo area, near Mandera, and planting an explosive device that killed four people when their vehicle ran over it in Liboi on March 16.

El Wak is about 160 kilometers (105 miles) from Mandera.

“The Christians living in Mandera are living in great fear of an imminent attack from the Al Shabaab,” the church leader said. “I think we have to think whether to continue with the Christian mission work or to leave the place. We cannot pretend that all is well.”

Kenya ranks 18th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

On Oct. 25, 2016, Islamic extremists targeted Christians in the shooting deaths of 12 non-local Kenyans at a guest-house in Mandera. Al Shabaab rebels took responsibility for the pre-dawn attack on the guest-house, where a Kenyan theatre troupe from outside the area was staying, according to the militants’ radio affiliate. An area pastor told Morning Star News that Christians were targeted.

“The attackers knew exactly whom they were attacking, that is, the Christians,” he said, adding that survivors told him the assailants were shouting, “Get rid of these infidel actors.”

The theatre group was made up of university students who reportedly travelled to the mainly Muslim area of Mandera to perform plays in local schools.

Suspected Al Shabaab militants targeted Christians in a grenade and gun attack in the early morning of Oct. 6, 2016 that killed six people. Al Shabaab reportedly took responsibility for the attack at a residential compound in Mandera, with a spokesman for the militants saying it was designed to drive Christians from the area. At least one of the victims was reportedly a Muslim.

The attack in Mandera, tucked in Kenya’s northeast corner near the Somali border, reportedly wounded several others. Among 27 people rescued were Christians who said the assailants shouted that Mandera was Muslim territory and that “infidels” should leave it. The pastor of an area church told Morning Star News that two members of his congregation were among those killed.

On Jan. 31, 2016, in a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya, Al Shabaab rebels on Jan. 31 killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them. An attack on a bus and a truck near Mandera by Al Shabaab insurgents took the lives of two Christians in December 2015, and on July 7, 2015, Al Shabaab killed 17 quarry workers near Mandera, including several Christians.

On Dec. 2, 2014, Al Shabaab killed 36 non-Muslims, most of them Christian, in an attack on quarry workers near Mandera. The killings came after a Nov. 22, 2014 assault by Somali insurgents in the same area that left 28 non-Muslims dead, including 19 Christians. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Dec. 2 massacre, calling it vengeance for police raids on mosques in Kenya and Kenyan military involvement in displacing the Islamic extremist militants from Somalia. Prior to the Nov. 22 attack, police raided and closed four mosques in Mombasa that they said were recruitment centers for Islamic terrorists.

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