02/20/2020 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that three people were killed yesterday and two others were injured when suspected al-Shabaab militants laid siege to a passenger bus traveling from Mandera to Nairobi, Kenya. During the attack, two Christians, Peter Kilonzo Musili and Kevin Onyango, were executed when they could not say the Shahada, the Islamic statement of faith. A Muslim man, Abdi Abinoor, was also killed while trying to protect the Christians from the attackers who were separating out non-Muslim passengers.
Confirming the incident, a security officer based in northeastern Kenya told ICC, “The incident happened on the morning of February 19 at Banisa, Mandera County, where a group of armed al-Shabaab members ambushed a bus ferrying 47 passengers to Nairobi. They sprayed it with bullets and deflated the tires in order to halt it and pick Christians from the bus. The efforts of the driver to escape from their trap did not bear fruit. He was also injured during the attack. Three people were killed and two others injured.”
This attack comes two months after 11 Christians were killed on December 6, 2019, when their bus was flagged down by Islamic militants at Kotulo in Wajir.
An evangelist based in Mandera said that the recent attack is a continuation of what has become normal in Mandera. “We are seeing a return of planned violent attacks against Christians in northeastern Kenya and the coastal region. Hostility against Christians has been escalating in Mandera at an alarming rate and is being carried out by al-Shabaab members. They target public service vehicles, where they separate Christians from Muslims and execute them. If not vehicles, they attack residential places and kill non-local Christian people,” he explained. “We are, however, proud of the few courageous Muslims who stand up and defend Christians. In this bus attack, one of them was killed for trying to stop the gunmen from shooting the Christians who were not able to say the Islamic prayer.”
Many of the Christians who have been killed in the predominantly Muslim northeastern region of Kenya are bus passengers, teachers, and construction workers. Last month, three teachers were killed at Kamuthe Primary School in Garissa while asleep within the school's residential area. Following the spree of attacks on teachers, the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) has transferred all non-local teachers posted in the counties of Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera to safer areas. Now, it is time to ensure the safety of passenger buses throughout Kenya.
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “Buses in Kenya have become one of the main targets for al-Shabaab. There have already been at least four similar attacks this year alone. In each one, Christian passengers are separated from those who are Muslim. They are then slaughtered like animals. What is encouraging to see is that there have also been a number of brave Muslims who have continued to try and protect the Christians. Those who do this must be lifted up as heroes. I am sad that Mr. Abinoor was killed, but he is a hero for trying to save others’ lives, and he needs to be applauded as such.”
International Christian Concern is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on human rights, religious freedom and assisting the persecuted Christian Church around the world.
Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator
International Christian Concern
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