By BosNewsLife Africa Service
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewslife)-- Christians in Kenya were mourning Friday, February 8, the death of two Somali pastors who were reportedly murdered by suspected Islamic militants.
Abdi Weli and another unidentified Christian were shot dead in a main market of the eastern city Garissa late Wednesday, February 7, local Christians and rights activists told BosNewsLife.
Both were active pastors among Somali immigrants in Kenya, explained International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group with close ties to the local Christian community. Weli, who became a Christian in 1990, was ordained
as a pastor in 2004, Christians said.
Local Christians blamed fighters of the militant Shabab group, who openly opposes Christianity. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Al-Shabab, which currently controls much of neighboring Somalia and is active in several parts of Kenya, demands form of Sharia, or Islamic, law that calls for the execution of Muslims that leave Islam, including Christians.
Proponents of Sharia are also known to assassinate those who convert Muslims away from Islam, according to ICC investigators.
"This story illustrates the very serious situation that Kenya is facing, as militant Islamists from Somalia have infiltrated and control several areas of Kenya," ICC President Jeff King told BosNewsLife in a statement. "Kenya must deal with this reality or ignore it at their peril," he added.
The killing came after reports that al-Shabab uses converts from religious Christianity to Islam to carry out deadly attacks against churches in Kenya as part of what they call a "holy war", or Jihad, officials said earlier in comments monitored by BosNewsLife.
Garissa, where the pastors were killed, was also the site of a blast at a church inside a police compound in November, which killed a police officer who also served as the pastor, and injured at least 13 others.
Police said militants with suspected links to al-Shabab were believed to be responsible on the attack rocked the Utawala Interdenominational church in the Administrative Police compound.
However, "Islamists are misguided if they think killing our church leaders will eliminate the community of faith from among the Somali people," a Somali pastor said in published remarks.
"Somali Christians have endured crushing persecution since the rise of al-Shabab," the church leader explained.
"Violence and oppression naturally arise from the enforcement of Sharia law," the pastor added, apparently speaking on condition of anonimity.
"Any country or culture contemplating the implementation of Sharia should take note of this incident and countless others like it that demonstrate a complete lack of civility and human respect," the Christian noted.
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