By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)– Eleven people, most of them Christians, have been shot and killed by Islamic militants in Kenya’s border region with Somalia for declining to profess the Islamic creed, BosNewsLife learned Friday, December 13.
Details of the December 6 attack were confirmed by several Christian rights investigators and local Christians. The militants of the feared Al-Shabaab group reportedly forced a bus, owned by Medina Bus Company, to stop on the road between the Katulo and Wagardud area in Wajir County.
Christians said the militants separated the 56 passengers on board into two groups, targeting non-locals. Right activists reported that the ‘non-locals’ were asked to tell the Islamic creed, known as the Shahada. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, declaring belief in the oneness of Allah and the acceptance of Muhammad as his prophet.
When the Christians refused or were unable to do say the creed, they were paraded out of the bus and shot dead at close range by alleged al-Shabaab militants, according to several sources. The militants then ordered the bus to leave with the rest of the passengers.
Among those killed were eight security officers from Kenya’s Anti-Stock Theft Unit, Christians said. They were identified as Athanas Kiti, Enos Odhiambo, Kevin Mandela, Wisely Meli, Tikane Kasale and Francis Mbuvi. Two other people, Emmanuel Barasa and Nathan Bett were reportedly missing, presumed dead.
“Also killed were Rodger Machuka, a medical practitioner, teacher Leonard Mukanda and another unnamed teacher,” said World Watch Monitor, the agency of the Open Doors rights group.
Authorities condemned the attack calling it a “heinous attack.” Advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) suggested that the violence underscores mounting concerns about Islamic extremism.
The attack comes only a month after eight construction workers in the same Mandera region escaped unharmed when the Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab ambushed the workers’.
“It is common in northeastern Kenya for terrorists to target buses, separate passengers by religious identity, and kill the Christians,” ICC said in a statement.
It recalled that in 2018, Fredrick Ngui Ngonde and Joshua Ooko Obila were killed similarly for declining to recite the Islamic creed along the Garissa Masalani road.
In 2015, 148 students at Garissa University were reportedly killed by gunmen after the Muslim students were freed. In the same year, a Muslim teacher, Salah Farah, was shot for defending Christian passengers who were being separated for execution by al-Shabaab, according to Christians.
In 2014, 28 teachers traveling to Nairobi for the Christmas holiday were killed reportedly after being forced to recite the Islamic statement of faith.
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said his group was praying for the families of the deceased and for peace to come to a region that has seen
“increased violence toward Christians who are just trying” to survive.
“We hope that the government will take effective action to stop the senseless killing of so many Christians in Kenya at the hands of Islamic extremists like al-Shabaab. We praise God as the refuge and strong tower that He is for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to endure so much,” Johnson added.