Kenya (Morning Star News) – Al Shabaab militia over the weekend killed 13 non-Muslims, mostly Christians, in coastal Kenya, sources said.
Village Muslims in the Pandanguo settlement of Lamu County helped Islamic extremists from the Somalia-based Al Shabaab identify locations where the Christians resided, a survivor of the attack told Morning Star News from a hospital in Mpeketoni. Several of the victims were beheaded.
The assailants killed four non-Muslims in Kipini (sometimes called Kadundu) on Sunday (July 9), not far from the Boni forest, a reputed hiding place of Al Shabaab rebels battling the government in Somalia. Early Saturday morning in Jima they killed nine non-Muslims in attacks that began at around 11 p.m. the previous night, shooting some and hacking others to death with machetes, including beheadings, area sources said.
“The Christians were asked to recite the Islamic dogmas, which they could not, hence they were killed,” a source said. “We urged the government to investigate and bring to book these local Muslims who are harboring these Al Shabaab terrorists, because the Christians who were decapitated were farmers.”
Those who managed to flee and survived have had their crops damaged by wild animals and are still in great shock, the source added.
“The government has now beefed up security in the area, and we hope the victims who fled will soon return back, but they need some trauma counseling first,” he said.
Area Christians have now left their villages.
“We are now residing at the police station in Hindi for fear of possible attacked,” one area resident told Morning Star News.
Many area people are still missing or unaccounted for, and there are fears the casualty toll may increase.
Two other sources in Lamu County said Christians in the coastal region of Kenya are in serious crisis as they face food shortages after fleeing their farms.
Acting Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i has imposed a three-month curfew in Lamu, Tana River, and Garissa counties in an effort to counter Al Shabaab’s attacks. The curfew began on Sunday (July 9) and is in effect until Oct. 9.
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. Attacks on non-Muslims on Kenya’s coast have also continued.
Kenya ranked 18th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Church members in a northeastern town in Kenya fear for their lives after Islamic extremists targeted Christians in a grenade and gun attack early Thursday morning (Oct. 6) that killed six people, sources said.
Targeting predominantly Christian migrant workers from Kenya’s interior, rebels from Somalia’s Al Shabaab group 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.
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 arrived at their church traumatized and in shock.
“The loud grenade woke me up, and I heard one of the attackers saying the ‘infidels’ should leave the Muslim area of Mandera,” one survivor told Morning Star News. “There were loud cries for help as the attackers were shooting from all directions.”
The pastor of an area church told Morning Star News that two members of his congregation were among those killed in the attack.
“Two of my church members were brutally murdered, and then their heads were chopped off,” he said. “The government needs to beef up security, especially in areas where non-locals who are mostly Christians reside, otherwise we are opting to leave the area for the sake of our lives.”
Earlier this year, 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, and they have carried out previous attacks in the Mandera area. 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, which has ties to Al Qaeda, 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.
Al Shabaab rebels 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.
Kenya ranks 16th on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in Kenya who put his faith in Christ last November has lost his wife and children, and now he fears for his life.
When his wife was hospitalized last October, Abdu Godana, 35, could not have guessed that the healing she received after an evangelist’s prayer would lead to losing her, his 7-year-old son and his 5-year-old daughter.
On the Kenyan side of Moyale, a town that shares a border with Ethiopia, Godana’s wife had received treatment for an unspecified illness for three weeks at Moyale District Hospital without any improvement when he took her home. Soon thereafter they received a visit from an evangelist with the Evangelical Christian Church of Africa (ECCA), who prayed for her.
His wife was not completely healed, but she was able to go about most of her daily activities, and a week later the couple invited the evangelist and two other church leaders to their home. The couple decided to become followers of Jesus after talking and giving thanks with the church leaders, and they began meeting at their home for Bible study and prayer, Godana said.
Early this year, Muslim neighbors reported to Godana’s relatives and those of his wife that the couple had embraced the Christian faith.
Godana’s in-laws began sending him threatening text messages: “You had a Muslim marriage, so it is against Islam to change your faith,” one read. “If you continue in the Christian faith, we shall come and take our daughter.”
In early February, Godana’s in-laws took his wife, he said. His Muslim parents distanced themselves from him, not only because they believed he had disgraced the family by leaving Islam, but because in losing his wife he had lost the dowry for her that they had provided.
Two weeks later, his in-laws returned and took away his children, he said.
His own family members are now threatening him. “Your life is at stake if you still hold on to the Christian faith,” one relative told him.
Godana has become depressed under a continuing barrage of text messages from his in-laws, including demands for payment for medical follow-up care, he said. One text read, “We have continued treating our daughter, and now we demand that you pay us the money that we have used for her treatment.”
“I am spending sleepless nights as the pressure from my wife’s family is being directed toward me,” he said. “I am also fearing for my life.”
Church Buildings Razed in Ethiopia
Across the border in Siraro District of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region, in East Shewa Zone about 150 miles south of Addis Ababa, Feb. 15 rioting by predominantly Muslim Oromo Arsi destroyed 14 church buildings, Christian leaders said.
More than 2,000 Christians have been left without worship venues after throngs of Oromo Arsi, protesting that the government was marginalizing them and that Christians were converting Muslims, burned 10 Kale Heywet Church (KHC, Word of Life) buildings and four others.
The KHC buildings burned were in Sabate with 110 church members, Loke Kecha with 70 members, Kate with 90 members, Bilitu with 350 members, Siraro, Chaticha with 200 members, Subuka with the 420 members, Shashamane with 30 members, Kenva with 150 members and Torban-Anshwa with 50 members.
Also torched were the buildings of Sabate Catholic Church with 250 members, Sabate Full Gospel Church with 330 members, Loke Kecha Orthodox Church with 100 members and Bilitu Orthodox Church with 500 members, according to Christian leaders, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“We have been worshipping outside and sitting on the bare ground bearing the hot sun,” said a KHC leader. “We appeal to our brothers elsewhere to come and assist us. The attackers poured petrol and were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is greater]” before setting the church building on fire.”
A month before the attacks in predominantly Muslim Siraro District, anonymous leaflets warned churches to stop converting Muslims to Christianity, said another area church leader. As demonstrations were taking place in Siraro town on Feb. 15 with anti-government and anti-Christian chants, Muslims in several villages began burning the 14 church buildings throughout Siraro District, church leaders said.
A cemetery belonging to Sabate Catholic Church was also damaged.
Police have arrested several suspects.
Ethiopia’s population is 60 percent Christian and 34 percent Muslim, according to Operation World. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian and 8 percent Muslim, although nominalism among the Christian population is considered widespread.
(Morning Star News) – In a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya on Sunday (Jan. 31), Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them, area sources said.
In the Kaisari area of Maporomoko village, near Pandanguo about 25 miles inland from the Indian Ocean town of Lamu, Al Shabaab rebels attacked from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., a wounded survivor at Mpeketoni Sub-County Hospital told Morning Star News.
The victim, a Christian from the Maporomoko-Bondeni area who was shot in his right hand, said there were five or six heavily-armed assailants who spoke Somali and were dressed in military uniform. They shot two Christians to death, hacked and beheaded another and killed at least one other by setting his house on fire, he said.
“I could not understand them, so they shot me in my hand, but I managed to escape while a neighbor who was with me was beheaded by the other attackers,” the Christian (name withheld) said from his hospital bed. “As I fled for my life bleeding, I could see two houses burning. Those who were attacked are Christians. I am very sure that the attackers were looking for Christians.”
The beheaded man was identified only as Mwaura, a Christian.
“This is the third time the area has been attacked, and we have lost several Christians,” the survivor said.
The rebels, who are fighting government and regional forces in Somalia, regard the northern coastal area of Kenya as Islamic territory. Al Shabaab, linked with Al Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack in a call to news organization Al Jazeera.
“Our fighters attacked non-believers in the occupied Muslim land of Lamu,” a spokesman said. “Our Mujahideen [Jihadists] killed several non-believers in the attack. We will give more details later.”
Unknown people resembling Al Shabaab militants had previously been seen in Pandanguo, a predominantly Muslim area, an area Christian leader said. Pandanguo is about 60 miles from the Somalia border.
“The Muslims want to wholly own the coastal region, and they want that the Christians should leave the area for them, but our presence in Lamu will bring many to the Christian faith,” the pastor said. “God has called us to be the salt and the light and to lead many to the marvelous light of Christ.”
Maporomoko village has a population of about 2,000 people from Christian tribes – Kikuyus, Meru and Kamba – and from non-Christian or Muslim Orma, Boni and Wasanye tribes, as well as Somalis. The Al Shabaab militants attacked only the Christian areas, the Christian leader said.
The rebels burned homes, left several people wounded and kidnapped some Christians, according to various sources.
“Security forces were following the footpaths of those kidnapped, who disappeared into the Pandanguo area, which is the home of the Boni and Somalis,” the pastor said. “The Christians are now finding out about some of their missing neighbors. The security personnel are not disclosing information, as tension remains high in areas where Christians have settled themselves: Mpeketoni, Hindi and some parts of Maporomoko area, which has been a target of Al Shabaab militia.”
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet told media the attack occurred near Pandanguo, which witnessed killings during June 2014 Al Shabaab attacks. Boinnet reportedly said security personnel were in the area tracking down the militants.
“They were dressed in military attire and heavily armed,” a senior police officer reportedly said. “They spoke in the Somali language and shot at locals and beheaded others before escaping on foot.”
On June 15, 2014, Al Shabaab rebels attacked Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, selecting out Christian males as they killed more than 57 people, area sources said. The estimated 50 Al Shabaab militants attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in a five-hour assault with guns and grenades. Sources told Morning Star News the attackers were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater]” and killing whoever could not recite verses from the Koran.
After Sunday morning’s assault, Mpeketoni residents on Monday morning (Feb. 1) protested terror attacks by Al Shabaab militia in the region. Police had to stop the demonstration of angry Mpeketoni residents to keep them from retaliation attacks on Somalis living in the area. At the same time, hundreds of people in Kaisari, greater Maporomoko and nearby Jima and Nyatha villages have been seen fleeing their homes.
“We feel very insecure, and our lives are in danger,” a mother of four in Hindi told Morning Star News. “Next time, the attackers will come and destroy us completely.”
Al Shabaab rebels 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.
(Voice of the Perseucted) An unknown number of students are being held hostage after gunmen stormed Garissa University. As the jihadists—Al-Shabaab engaged in a shoot out with authorities, 147 people were killed, many injured and hostages taken. The group said they are “holding many Christians alive.”
Around 5:30 a.m, the attack came as morning prayers began at the university mosque. The worshipers were not attacked by the gunmen. The chaos sent the students scattering for safety. Many of the university’s 815 students have not been accounted for.
Witnesses said they divided Christian students from Muslims, and then gunned them down without mercy. Many ran for their lives through a spray of bullets to find cover. Others escaped the dorms with the help of military soldiers at the scene. Another witness claimed, “Most of the people still inside there are girls.” Defense forces have the area surrounded.
Al-Shabaab originated as a branch of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which splintered into several smaller factions after its defeat in 2006 by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the TFG’s Ethiopian military allies. The group describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam.” The group fights for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state.
Al-Shabaab is said to have many foreigners within its ranks, including recruiting those from western countries—particularly at the leadership level.
Al-Shabaab has been designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. As of June 2012, the US State Department has open bounties on several of the group’s senior commanders.
In 2011, Al-Shabaab claimed NGO’s were conducting illegal and inappropriate activities and banned all foreign non-governmental organizations from areas under its control. In retaliation for these alleged ulterior motives, it’s members intimidated, kidnapped and killed NGO and international workers, leading the organizations to suspend or withdraw their operations.
Their focus had primarily been within Somalia, but they have carried out deadly strikes in the region. The group took a hard hit and was weakened in the efforts to eradicate them. They now seem more focused on creating fear and chaos through terrorism on easy targets where the number of casualties may be large. The jihadi-linked group has been blamed for multiple attacks, including the terror operation at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013. In the attack they executed 67 unarmed men, women and children.
In the struggle for influence and recognition, Al-Shabaab has been trying to maintain its relevancy similar to radicals such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Boko Haram—who they have connection with.
(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.