Fear Grips Churches in Northeastern Kenya as Muslim Extremists Kill Two Christian Teachers
Morning Star News East Africa CorrespondentReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2018 Oct 15
NAIROBI, Kenya, October 15, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremists suspected to be Al Shabaab militants on Wednesday at 1 a.m. (Oct. 10) killed two Christians in northern Kenya, sources said.
In Mandera East, in Mandera County on Kenya’s border with Somalia, more than 20 suspected Somali Al Shabaab rebels detonated an Improvised Explosive Device at the block housing where non-local teachers live, instantly killing two teachers. In an area with many Muslims of Somali descent, militants assume that Kenyans who come from the interior to work are Christians – which, in this case as in previous ones, was correct.
“The non-local teachers were members of the Catholic Church and the East Africa Pentecostal Church,” an area source told Morning Star News, requesting their names be withheld as relatives have yet to be notified. “The attackers knew who to attack; they had a specific mission of targeting non-locals as they went straight to the house quarters of the four non-local teachers.”
One of the two non-local teachers who were able to flee the living quarters before the explosion notified a Morning Star News contact of the attack on the teachers’ quarters of the Arabia Boys Secondary School, Lafey Sub-County, two kilometers from the Somali border.
“But thank God two of us managed to escape,” the surviving teacher said, requesting anonymity. “They razed the house down with the hope that none of the non-local teachers survived.”
Area churches and schools have been shaken by previous attacks, and an area church leader said he has decided to leave until security is tightened.
“I am concerned for my church members and the future of the church in Mandera,” he said. “I know our presence meant a lot for the kingdom of God, but our hearts have been gripped with great fear.”
The attack was not random or accidental, since no local teacher, workers or students were killed, he said.
“As a non-local pastor, I feel frightened of a possible attack on our church,” he said. “My members are in a great, fearful state. We really need prayers for God’s protection.”
The two teachers who survived are traumatized and need prayers and counseling, he added.
The bodies of the slain teachers have been flown to Nairobi, where notification of family members is pending.
Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, or Al Shabaab sympathizers have killed several non-local people in northern Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.
Kenya ranked 32nd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Economic Persecution in Coastal Kenya
In coastal Kenya, hard-line Muslims are economically walling out Christians, leaving widows who lost their husbands to Islamist violence especially traumatized, area residents said.
Muslims in Lamu are strategizing new ways of persecution using an economic approach, a Christian worker in Mpeketoni told Morning Star News. Lamu is predominantly Muslim, and most of the large farms producing crops and animal products are owned by the Muslims.
“Visit any market in Lamu, may it be Mpeketoni, Witu, Lamu town, you will see a hidden economic sanction imposed by Muslims on Christians,” he said. “Muslims engage their business to their own brothers and sisters in the faith, leaving non-Muslims deprived of basic economic needs: food stuff, animal products, just to name a few.”
Christians also face discrimination in obtaining transportations services, a Christian merchant in Mpeketoni told Morning Star News.
A widow who lost her husband to an Al Shabaab attack said this discrimination is further hurting mothers already impoverished due to the loss of their husbands.
“It now apparent that the fortunate children who qualified for university education cannot afford to be sent to such universities,” she said. “My daughter is looking to me to provide the university school fees, but I remain helpless, discouraged and hopeless. At times I question the presence of God, yet God seemed to have decided to remain silent.”
A Christian worker in Lamu said area Christians, especially widows who lost their husbands to Al Shabaab attacks, are finding life unbearable.
“Please Christians, pray and intercede for us that the God of peace will intervene,” the worker said.
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Photo courtesy: David Clode/Unsplash
Photo courtesy: David Clode/Unsplash