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Kenya: Four killed in brutal al-Shabaab attack

23 August 2017

Four Christians have been killed in a brutal al-Shabaab attack in the town of Kasala Kairu, Witu, in Kenya's Lamu County, after refusing to recite the Islamic Shahada.

Sources told Open Doors that a group of armed men arrived in the town around 9pm on Friday and divided into two or three groups. They then dragged Changawa Muthemba (40s) to the nearby home of Joseph Kasena (42), his brother in-law and a church elder. A young man, Kadenge Katana (17), was also at Joseph's house at the time.

The attackers held the three men at machete point and demanded that they recite the Islamic Shahada. When none of them did, the attackers tried to tie them up. But as the men resisted, the attackers hacked them to death.

Afterwards, the militants entered the nearby home of Joseph's older brother, Charo Karisa (in his late 40s), and killed him.

Concerns for families of the murdered men

Local sources, who remain unnamed for security reasons, expressed grave concern for Joseph's wife Caroline Riziki (to whom you can write and encourage). Caroline witnessed the events and is said to be severely traumatised. Thankfully, their 17-year-old daughter, Zawadi, was visiting relatives at the time.

The family of Kadenge, who had been attending junior high school and went to a local church, is also devastated at his murder.

Nothing is known of Changawa's wife, also Caroline's sister at the moment.

Tensions between al-Shabaab, farmers and Christians

Asked why these four men were targeted, a local source explained that al-Shabaab militia - who originate from neighbouring Somalia - and their sympathisers are herders who are often hostile towards Kenyan farmers.

Earlier that day, some locals met with the Somali herdsmen who threatened them. But Open Doors sources feel that this was not the reason for the attack - rather, it provided the opportunity for it.

Al-Shabaab knew these men as Christians and Joseph as a church elder, and al-Shabaab are known to target and kill Christians and other non-Muslims.

A month ago, suspected al-Shabaab members killed nine local men they assumed to be Christian in the Pandagua area of Lamu West. The militants are also known for attacking buses near the Kenyan border with Somalia, separating the Christians from the Muslims and killing the Christians.

To find out more about persecution in Kenya and Somalia, visit the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List. You can pray for believers in Kenya using the prayer points below.

"Thank you for your concern for us. Please pray for us and with us," said the local source.

Write to Caroline Riziki

Open Doors has launched a letter-writing campaign for the widow of Joseph, Caroline Riziki, who has been severely traumatised by this attack. See how you can write to and encourage Caroline today, visit the letter-writing webpage.

Source: Open Doors

Please pray:

  • Pray for the bereaved families to receive the comfort of the Lord in this very difficult time.
  • "Pray for us Christians to receive grace and strength because this was a very big blow," asked the local source.
  • Pray that the local church will experience much grace as they come to terms with this attack. Pray that they would not be tempted to abandon the faith or grow bitter. May the church grow in number and strength!
  • Pray for the attackers to be saved.

More News from Kenya:

Find out more about persecution in Kenya.