The six people killed in this morning’s attack in north-east Kenya by Al Shabab were Christians, according to the militant group’s own radio station, Radio Andalus. The militia attacked at about 2:45am this morning, 6 October.
It reports that the grenade and gun attack on a residential compound in Mandera, on the Somali border - an area known to have Kenyan migrant Christian workers - targeted “Christianity’s power in the region,” and that it was part of a series of attacks over the past few months.
“We are behind the Mandera attack in which we killed six Christians,” local and international media reported the group’s military spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Musab, as saying.
Al-Shebab wearing Kenyan army uniforms
In a telephone interview, a WWM contact who asked not to be named told how “the Al Shabab militants, wearing Kenyan army uniforms, entered the housing compound on the pretext of being Kenyan security officers on patrol. Once allowed in, they first hit a mobile money transfer (M-Pesa) shop with an explosive device, before throwing more explosives into the compound. The people were caught unawares and were shot as they tried to flee. They specifically targeted non-locals (all assumed to be ‘Christians’).
Among the 6 dead is a local barber called Cege. Among the injured is one person who hid in the ceiling, but the explosion from the grenades shook him and he fell through the roof and was injured. He is currently in hospital."
Reports indicated that the attackers planted landmines all around the compound. One exploded when the security officers attempted to access the building. At the time WWM received this report, the bodies of the dead were still in the building as security personnel waited for bomb experts to detonate the explosives. Mandera County Commissioner Frederick Shisia told media they are working on switching off communication networks to allow police to enter the building without the fear of more explosions.
"There are increased security personnel in town even as tension remains very high. Residents are declining interviews out of fear for their safety and many are locked in their houses," locals report.
Al Shabab has regularly attacked buses, to the point that the region has lost 100s of migrant teachers who say they no longer feel safe to work in the Somali-majority region.
In July, a church leader was killed returning home from facilitating a training on pursuing peace between Christian and Muslims in Garissa and Mandera.
In April, a charity which reports on global Christianity under pressure, Open Doors, concluded that NE Kenya is experiencing ethnic cleansing on grounds of religion.
In July 2015 at least 14 quarry workers were killed when suspected Al-Shabab gunmen attacked their compound in Soko Mbuzi village, just outside Mandera.
In an attack on Kenya’s north-eastern Garissa University in April 2015, the militants singled out and shot Christians, leaving 147 dead.
In December 2014 al-Shabab killed 36 quarry workers in Mandera, all believed to be Christian.
Kenya ranks 16th on the World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it’s most difficult to be a Christian, produced by Open Doors – which says this is mainly as a result of Islamist extremism.
Publication date: October 6, 2016