(Morning Star News) – Two sisters in their mid-20s were attacked and a church building burned last month in an area of Kenya where Islamic extremists killed at least 13 people last July – including the young women’s father.
Somalis in coastal Kenya’s Lamu County struck 25-year-old Annah after she answered their knock on the door on Feb. 22 at about 7:30 p.m. in the village of Hindi, said her sister, Karuiki. Islamic extremists from Somalia killed their father, Simon, on July 5, 2014. The surnames of all three are withheld for security reasons.
“The attackers made a knock at the door, and my sister decided to go and open the door, only to be hit with a blunt sharp object near the forehead,” Karuiki said. “My sister fell down screaming, and I decided to rush in to help. Just at the door, I was hit on my right hand, and I fell down.”
Neighboring Muslims rushed over, and the attackers fled, she said. Annah began seriously bleeding, and neighbors called for a motorbike to come and take the women to a hospital.
The assailants spoke the Somali language and broken Kiswahili, Karuiki said.
“As they fled,” she said, “a neighbor heard one saying, ‘We do not want hard-haired [Kenyan] Christians in our region – they should go back to where they came from. We shall soon come back again.’”
The rest of the sisters’ family was away at their hometown in central Kenya at the time of the attack. Upon learning of the assault, their mother came to them at the hospital in Mpeketoni, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Hindi.
“The neighbors know the attackers, but they fear to disclose them because they are all Muslims,” said the sisters’ mother, whose name is withheld. “I have recorded statements at the Hindi police station, but the attackers have not been brought to book. We want our stories to be heard with the hope security will be tightened here in Mpeketoni.”
On July 5, 2014, she lost her husband when gunmen attacked Gamba and Hindi in Lamu County. In Hindi, 15 to 20 assailants with guns and knives killed at least 13 people, including 12-year-old Ken Mangara, area sources told Morning Star News.
“We have lived a difficult life since the death on my husband,” she said.
Like those who attacked the sisters, the assailants in the July 5 massacre also spoke Somali and Kiswahili (Swahili, Kenya’s national language), and they also said non-Muslims should leave the area.
Members of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), a violent separatist group claiming political and economic discrimination, work closely with area Somalis in attacking Christians, an area church pastor said. The MRC includes Christians, but the Kenyan government has banned it as a “criminal gang” dominated by Islamic extremists. Members of the Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab and sympathizers have also been active in northern and coastal Kenya.
The pastor said supporters of MRC are everywhere in the coastal region, and that it is difficult to discern who is a member.
On Tuesday (March 17) the pastor and 30 Christians from Hindi visited the area district officer of Hindi to request added security as Christians want to go back to their farms in accordance with a government plan, she said. Somalis living in the area and other Muslims, she said, have been agitating for them to “go back to their ancestral land.”
Two Christians were also killed on July 7, 2014 in Gamba, 46 kilometers (28 miles) from Mpeketoni, a predominantly Christian town where gunmen killed at least 57 people in a June 15 attack.
In Maramande, Hindi, on Feb. 28, Somalis set the pastor’s church building ablaze at 1 p.m.; the same church’s building had been burned during the violence of July 5, 2014. In January the church had rebuilt another worship center.
“What I saw, I fell down, my energy gone, and went back telling God to uphold my soul and to continue trusting in Him for his providence,” said the pastor.
She reported the fire to Mohammed Lausi, police chief of Hindi sub-county, who promised to provide more security.
“These people do not want Christianity in this area,” the pastor said. “They want to finish me so that Christianity will not go on here. But I will continue raising up my eyes to God for help.”
Violence in Kenya’s coastal region has accelerated in the past few years. On Jan. 11 in the Mombasa area, a gunman shot a Christian dead at the gate leading to a church building, apparently after mistaking him for the church pastor. Police reportedly said the assailants could be members of an active Islamic extremist terror cell in Mombasa blamed for past gun and grenade attacks.
Islamic extremists were suspected in the Feb. 2, 2014 killing of 59-year-old Lawrence Kazungu Kadenge, an assistant pastor at Glory of God Ministries Church in the Majengo area of Mombasa.
On Oct. 19, 2013, suspected Islamic extremists in Mombasa killed pastor Charles “Patrick” Matole of Vikwantani Redeemed Gospel Church following riots associated with a mosque said to be a recruitment center for Islamic terrorists. Matole had received death threats.