By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in northern Kenya were left in shock Tuesday, December 2, after Islamic militants from neighboring Somalia killed at least 36 mainly Christian quarry workers following a similar massacre last month.
Survivors said members of terror group al-Shabab, who arrived shortly after midnight, surrounded tents at the quarry in Kormey, 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Kenya’s Mandera town near the Somali border.
The militants reportedly roused sleeping workers and ordered those who could not prove they were Muslims to lie on the ground before spraying them with bullets.
Driver Ali Sheikh Yusuf, who visited the scene, said most of the victims appeared to have been lined up, and shot in the head, at close range. He told reporters that four were beheaded inside their tents, while three apparently managed to escaped to nearby Mandera town.
At least 36 bodies were found dumped in the quarry, the Kenyan Red Cross said.
NEW SECURITY OFFICIALS
The massacre prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to fire Interior Minister Ole Lenku, while police chief David Kimayo offered his resignation.
Lenku was to be replaced by opposition politician and former army general Joseph Kaissery, the Kenyan president said.
Tuesday’s bloodshed came amid growing concerns among Christians about security in regions bordering Somalia. Last month, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for killing 28 Christians traveling on a bus in northeast Kenya.
The bus carrying 60 passengers was on its way to Nairobi, the capital, when it was ambushed in Mandera County.
Later some ten militants were seen gathering non-Muslims outside before carrying out the executions. “The non-Somalis were ordered to read some verses of [Islam’s] holy Koran [book]…,” recalled passenger Ahmed Mahatsaid at the time. “Those who failed to read were ordered to lie down. One by one they were shot in the head at point blank range.”
PRESIDENT VOWS WAR
Yet, an emotional President Kenyatta told his nation in televised remarks that “we will not flinch” in the battle against al-Shabab despite the latest massacre. “This is a war against Kenya and Kenyans,” he added. “It is a war that every one of us must fight.”
Al-Shabab, which wants to impose strict Islamic law, said the latest attacks were in response to police raids on several mosques in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa after explosives were found in one.
“Our Mujhahideen forces are always ready to launch frequent deadly cross-border attacks against Kenya as a revenge,” group spokesman Sheikh Ali Dheere said in a statement read on a pro-al-Shabab radio station in Somalia.
It has also killed several Christians in Somalia itself in recent years, as part of its Islamic campaign, BosNewsLife established.
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