Al Shabaab suspected in killing of six Christians in Somalia

By Morning Star News |
Mosque of Islamic Solidarity in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Mosque of Islamic Solidarity in Mogadishu, Somalia. | (Hiram A. Ruiz, Creative Commons)

Six Kenyan merchants killed by suspected militants from the Islamic extremist Al Shabaab on Friday (March 29) in the Somali border town of Dhobley were likely attacked for spreading Christianity, sources said.

The six secret Christians had been selling plastic utensils and other household goods in Dhobley, in Somalia's Lower Juba Region, for six years, a Christian leader in northern Kenya said.

“Our brothers had been doing business to support their families, but also sharing the love of Jesus Christ to the Muslims in Dhobley,” the leader told Morning Star News on condition of anonymity. “Two members of our church recently reported that several Muslims were secretly attending the evening prayers. This is probably what could have caused the Al Shabaab to kill them for spreading Christianity in the area.”

He identified the slain Christians as Joseph Githonga and Simon Karimi of the East Africa Pentecostal Church, Peter Muthuri and Thomas Muthee of the Kenya Assemblies of God and James Mwendwa and John Kathure of the Anglican Church.

The late Githonga had told the Christian leader in February that area converts from Islam had grown concerned over local complaints that the six Christians were praying in Christ’s name with Muslim neighbors and worshipping too loudly.

“My advice to them was to avoid singing and prayers but only to have Bible study so as to safeguard the Muslim Background Believers and themselves,” he said.

The assailants attacked the six men at their rented property, which included the shops from which they sold their wares and a back section as living quarters, the Christian leader said. They were shot to death at close range, he said.

In Kenya, Liboi Deputy County Commissioner Ali Manduku reportedly confirmed that six Kenyans were killed by suspected Al Shabaab militants.

A survivor of the attack reportedly said a Toyota Probux showed up near the traders’ shops around 7 a.m., and four hooded men began shooting, killing four merchants immediately, with two dying later. The assailants also set their shops ablaze.  

The bodies of the slain Christians were taken to a mortuary in Garissa County, Kenya, the Christian leader said.

Somalia is ranked 2nd on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.

Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, or Al Shabaab sympathizers also have killed several non-local people in northern Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.

On April 2, 2015, 148 people at Garissa University College lost their lives in an attack by Al Shabaab, and several attacks on churches and Christians have taken place in Garissa, also in northern Kenya.

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