In another attack targeting Christians, in the largely Muslim Mandera County close to the Somali border, Al-Shabaab militants shot dead 36 non-Muslim stone quarry workers just shortly after midnight on 2 December.
Peter Nderitu, who hid in a trench until the attackers left, reported that around 50 armed assailants arrived at the camp where the quarry workers were sleeping in tents. He heard the militants separate the Muslims from the non-Muslims, as they were asked to recite the shahada (Islamic creed).
The non-Muslims were ordered to lie on the ground and were shot in the back of the head. Four of the victims were found beheaded in their tents. Another three are thought to have escaped. Not all of the workers have been accounted for, sparking fears that some may have been abducted.
Claiming responsibility for the attack, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, spokesman for Al-Shabaab, said that it came in response to the recent airstrike by Kenya’s military that destroyed their property and killed many. This airstrike was a response to an Al-Shabaab bus attack on 22 November when 28 Christians were shot dead.
Al-Shabaab militants say they want to drive out Christians from ‘Muslim lands’. The Mandera County senator, Billow Kerrow, says the militants are hoping to ‘create chaos in the country by creating divisions between Muslims and Christians’. But the vice-chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims, Abdullahi Sirat, has pleaded with Kenyans not to rise to this bait or fight each other.