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Fear of Al-Shabaab Attacks Escalates in Northern Kenya

06/09/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two passenger buses driving along the Mandera-Nairobi route in Kenya were ambushed on June 7 by Somali-based al-Shabaab militants. The ambush took place between Olla and Sarman villages in northern Mandera, leaving three dead and several others injured. Among the three were two security officers of the escort team guarding the convoy who were shot dead as they approached to rescue the passengers.

Confirming the incident, the region’s police commander, Rono Bunei, said, “The incident happened in the morning hours when suspected al-Shabaab fighters laid a trap to two civilian buses and one police escort vehicle along the Moyale Mandera road within Banisa municipality, where an exchange of fire took place, leading to three fatalities and several people wounded.”

He added, “The area has no mobile telephone network and the attackers may have taken advantage of this.” These attacks often take place in remote areas, where it will take the police a long time to respond. It also means that there is a high likelihood that no one will be able to call for help.

According to a pastor based in Mandera, it is suspected that the attackers were looking for non-local Christian travelers who resolved to use the long Nairobi-Moyale-Mandera route to avoid the highly insecure Nairobi-Wajir-Mandera route. While speaking with ICC, he indicated, “There have been fears for believers in northeastern Kenya from the time war broke in the border of Israel. We even hear the locals chant in public about the evil of Israel, America, and the Church. No one feels safe in the towns or while traveling. We were advised to stop groupings in our living places or gathering in church without security officers.

Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “The region of northeastern Kenya has been a hotbed for terrorism for several years now as the radical Islamic fighters target non-local Christians and civil servants. They wish to establish a stronghold in this part of the country to punish Kenya for its involvement in Somalia’s struggle for democracy. This recent attack comes just two months after five passengers were killed and dozens were severely injured when a bus they were traveling in ran over a roadside improvised bomb on Laffey-Mandera road near the Kenya-Somali border in Mandera County.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1623240895762{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]