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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Christians Targeted in Massacre by Al Shabaab in Kenyacomment (0)

June 17, 2014


 

Somalia’s Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels attacked a predominantly Christian town on Kenya’s coast June 15, selecting out Christian males as they killed more than 57 people, area sources said.

The estimated 50 Al Shabaab militants attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, about 60 miles from the Somali border, in a five-hour assault with guns and grenades that began after 8 p.m. Al Shabaab reportedly took responsibility for the attack, saying it was to avenge Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia and the killing of Muslims.

Sources said the assailants were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater]” and killing whoever could not recite verses from the Koran.

“The attackers entered my house, took my boy out of the house, then killed him by shooting him, leaving my wife and daughters inside,” one pastor said.

Pastors in Mpeketoni said the town is only 5 percent Muslim and that most of the people killed were Christians. In two minibuses and two pick-up trucks, the gunmen entered the town, threw a grenade at a gas station and attacked an administrative police station. A pastor said gunmen then opened fire at a public venue where people were watching a World Cup soccer game, killing nine people.

Sources who visited Mpeketoni Mortuary said they found 57 people killed in the attack, though at press time officials said the toll stood at 48. Among the dead were six children of church pastors in Mpeketoni, mostly boys, said one source.

“As I walked down the streets of Mpeketoni town, the situation looked very gloomy, as some bodies were still lying beside the road,” said a source who requested anonymity.

One source said seven Muslims were killed by accident in the course of the attacks.

On June 16, several bodies were found on the outskirts of Mpeketoni town, some of them taken to a mortuary in Malindi, which could bring the death toll to more than 100, sources said.

While several banks were damaged by grenades, the police station was the hardest hit; sources said eight policemen were killed, several police vehicles were destroyed and the station lay in ruins. The militants also reportedly went door-to-door asking residents their religion and killed them if they answered “Christian.”

Before arriving in Mpeketoni, the Al Shabaab rebels, who are linked with Al Qaeda, killed seven people in Kibaoni north of the town, sources said. Before arriving at Mpeketoni, the rebels also killed three people at Hongwe, they said.

After the attack, the gunmen were said to have disappeared into the Boni Forest with police in pursuit.

Besides Al Shabaab claiming responsibility for the attacks, some eyewitness said they saw the Islamic extremist militia’s black flag.

In mourning and weeping after a night of wailing, churches in Mpeketoni request prayer and financial support as they grieve the losses, pastors said.

The bodies found June 16 on the outskirts of Mpeketoni could render the assault the deadliest since the Al Shabaab attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall on Sept. 21, 2013, which killed at least 67 people. (MS)

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