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Back-to-Back Massacres Leave Scores of Christians Dead as Islamic Militants Retaliate Against Mombasa Mosque Raids

12/03/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that 36 non-Muslims, a majority of whom were reported as having been professed Christians, were summarily executed by al-Shabaab militants in an early-morning massacre near Kenya’s border with Somalia. Laborers at a construction site on the outskirts of Mandera (where al-Shabaab militants slaughtered 28 non-Muslims—including 19 Christians—on November 22), the men were attacked while sleeping at around 1:00 this morning. According to reports, some of the victims were shot through the head on site, while others were driven to the Somali border before being executed.

Al-Shabaab (“the boys”), a radical Islamic insurgency with ties to al-Qaeda, has waged a campaign of terror against Kenya and other East African nations involved in the African Union mission (AMISOM) fighting the insurgency’s dwindling control in Somalia. In claiming responsibility for this morning’s attack, al-Shabaab has killed 64 non-Muslims in the last 11 days in retaliation for police raids of four mosques based in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa last week. According to Voice of America, the consecutive attacks forced the resignation of Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of the Interior, Joseph Ole Lenku, and National Police Chief, David Kimaiyo. The resignations were announced by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a televised speech on national security Tuesday.

Today’s attack follows the massacre of 28 non-Muslims, including 19 Christians, on November 22 by al-Shabaab militants in Mandera, a Kenyan town on the border of Somalia. In that attack, militants commandeered a bus, forcing all passengers from the vehicle before separating Muslims from non-Muslims by having passengers either speak in Somali or recite an Islamic creed. Those who failed were boarded back onto the bus, driven a short distance, forced to disembark and then executed on the side of the road.

Similar attacks have also been documented in Lamu County, a tourist destination on the predominantly Islamic Swahili Coast. During a recent tour of the coast, ICC staffers met with Christian survivors of multiple massacres of non-Muslims in and around Mpeketoni, including the slaughter of 13 men, the destruction of 10 houses and the burning to the ground of a local church on July 5 by armed Islamic militants. As in the above attacks, victims were asked to speak in Somali or recite from the Quran. If unable, they were either shot through the head at close range, or slowly beheaded with a panga, or East African machete.

According to Kenyan defense forces (KDF), an air strike targeting an al-Shabaab base of operations in Somalia in response to the the November 22 massacre killed 45 militants. This is but one of several recent successful military offensives against al-Shabaab in recent months by AMISOM and its member nations. Al-Shabaab has lost significant ground in Somalia, including its control of the critical port city of Barawa; but, experts warn that following the death of the group’s former emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane, in September, the insurgency has consolidated its internal leadership, shoring up once-widening divisions some speculated would result in group fractures.

Cameron Thomas, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “Today, we mourn on behalf of the 36 families that lost loved ones in this morning’s massacre. The security situation in Kenya continues to deteriorate, even as critical advances are made against al-Shabaab in their base country of Somalia. Christians across the Somali and coastal regions of Kenya are at risk of suffering the next lethal attack by Islamic extremists. While recently traveling the Kenyan coast, a colleague and I met with too many Christian widows and orphans left without food, shelter and peace of mind as result of these targeted attacks that, in a night, can decimate a community. More needs to be done to ensure the security of Kenya’s Christians, and the global Church needs to be the first to step up and support those victimized at the hands of Islamic extremists and their pangas.”