According to reports, word surfaced of an imminent al-Shabaab attack on Sunday 21 July at a building site for a government hospital in Kutulo, which was been constructed by non-local, mostly Christian workers. A number of Muslim locals quickly warned the workers to leave the site and helped evacuate them to safety.
“They confronted the gunmen who proceeded to the site and failed to get what they wanted. [The attackers] opened fire but no one was injured before they escaped,” north-eastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik told media.
The foiled attack took place in Mandera County, in the northeast corner of Kenya. This area borders Somalia and is Muslim majority. According to an Open Doors worker this was a “show of solidarity from locals”.
The Open Doors worker said: “The area feels more like Somalia than Kenya and usually is a very hostile place for Christians. Most of the believers who live here came here from other areas of the country for work and some for ministry. But they are treated like unwanted outsiders and face a lot of harassment and the continuous threat of targeted al-Shabaab attacks.
“Please thank the Lord with us that another bloodbath was prevented. Pray that this kind of action will become the new norm in this area. Pray for the protection over those who took this bold move.”
Somalia is number 3 on the Open Doors World Watch List. Islam is an important part of Somali identity, leaving Islam is seen as a huge betrayal. The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab has stated publicly that it ‘wants Somalia free of all Christians’.
Most Somali Christians keep their faith completely secret. If al-Shabaab find someone who has become a Christian, the militants will often kill them on the spot.
Kenya is number 40 on the Open Doors World Watch List.
Believers from a Muslim background in the northeast and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack – even from their closest relatives. The Islamic militant group al-Shabaab, which has conducted numerous attacks targeting Christians.