11/30/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – An improvised explosive device (IED) targeting residential houses, inside St. Michaels Catholic Church in Mandera town, exploded outside the church’s perimeter wall on November 26. International Christian Concern’s (ICC) representative in Kenya was able to speak with several Christians living in Mandera about the incident.
Reverend Daniel Musemi of Pentecostal Assemblies of God, who has been mistering there for 40 years, said, “We thank God that the explosive missed the target. We have been praying for God’s protection upon the main terrorist’s target in northeastern Kenya which includes churches, police stations, quarry workers, residential places, public service vehicles and government institutions. The Christians in Mandera have never felt this insecure before, a good number of worshippers have stopped coming to church and several churches might just close down if the threat persists.”
Mandera town lies close to the Kenyan border with Somalia and is one of the most heavily attacked places in Kenya. There have been major attacks on Christians in Mandera over the past several years. In November 2014, 28 Christians were removed from a bus and executed by al-Shabaab terrorists. Then, in December 2015, al-Shabaab stopped another bus, this time only killing two, because other passengers protected the Christians onboard. Finally, in October 2016, al-Shabaab killed six Christians and claimed it was aimed at forcing Christians out of the area.
“We have been on a high security alert for a month now and the last two Sundays we did not gather to worship. More than 100 al-Shabaab militants are suspected to have crossed over from Somalia through the porous border and are planning to carry out a series of attacks. This failed attempt to blow up a church-owned property could be one of their missions.” Reverend Daniel continued.
Tito Gathai, a non-local in Mandera spoke with ICC and confirmed the incident: “I have lost nine of my close friends previously when the terrorists attacked Mandera in 2015 and 2016. We live knowing that anytime it can be us. But whatever will happen now or in the future will be because the Lord will have allowed it. Meanwhile, we will continue to labor in prayer for protection and change of heart to our Muslim friends.”
ICC’s Regional Manager, Nathan Johnson, stated, “We hope to see the Kenyan government take this threat seriously. The continued attacks on Christians in Mandera county have shown that there is still a great need for the government to protect its citizens from the threat of violent extremism. Al-Shabaab has shown itself to be a threat to the stability and safety of Christians living near the border with Somalia. If not confronted, al-Shabaab’s continued reign of terror will hurt many more Kenyans in years to come.”