Tag: Al-Qaeda

Christian Killed in Islamic Extremist Attack in Northeastern Kenya

Al Shabaab militants are suspected in the killing of two people, at least one a Christian, in a May 12 gun attack in northeastern Kenya, sources said.

Five suspected rebels from the Somali Islamic extremist group targeted non-Muslim quarry workers in El Wak, near the Somali border in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, in the early morning at the workers’ company-owned quarters, a Christian leader told Morning Star News. He said quarry worker Dalama Otieno, a member of an area East African Pentecostal Church congregation, died from gunshot wounds to the head.

An area resident told Morning Star News that the assailants used a jihadist slogan during the assault.

“I heard them say, ‘Allah Akbar [God is Greater]’, and then followed gunshots,” he said.

A second worker, unidentified at this writing but assumed to be a non-Muslim Kenyan like nearly all the quarry employees, died of gunshot wounds to the chest, the Christian leader said. Predominantly Christian workers from Kenya’s interior have been targeted in a series of Al Shabaab attacks that have shaken Christian communities in Kenya’s northeast.

Area residents reported seeing unfamiliar visitors in El Wak the night before the attack.

“We have warned our church members to leave the volatile area, which has been a black spot prone to Al Shabaab attacks,” the Christian leader told Morning Star News. “This is the area that led to the massacre of 28 teachers a few years ago.”

Rebels from Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011 in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.

“These Al Shabbab militants have made some of our Christians to be their scapegoats, as they see Kenya as a Christian country that is fighting to rid Al Shabaab from Somalia,” the Christian leader said.

El Wak is a key supply line to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces that have retaken territory from Al Shabaab insurgents in Somalia. The jihadist rebels have retaliated with attacks on Kenya’s northeast.

Al Shabaab is suspected of killing administrative chief Dekow Abbey Sirat and abducting two police reservists on Monday night (May 15) in the Omar Jillo area, near Mandera, and planting an explosive device that killed four people when their vehicle ran over it in Liboi on March 16.

El Wak is about 160 kilometers (105 miles) from Mandera.

“The Christians living in Mandera are living in great fear of an imminent attack from the Al Shabaab,” the church leader said. “I think we have to think whether to continue with the Christian mission work or to leave the place. We cannot pretend that all is well.”

Kenya ranks 18th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

On Oct. 25, 2016, Islamic extremists targeted Christians in the shooting deaths of 12 non-local Kenyans at a guest-house in Mandera.

Al Shabaab rebels took responsibility for the pre-dawn attack on the guest-house, where a Kenyan theatre troupe from outside the area was staying, according to the militants’ radio affiliate. An area pastor told Morning Star News that Christians were targeted.

“The attackers knew exactly whom they were attacking, that is, the Christians,” he said, adding that survivors told him the assailants were shouting, “Get rid of these infidel actors.”

The theatre group was made up of university students who reportedly travelled to the mainly Muslim area of Mandera to perform plays in local schools.

Suspected Al Shabaab militants targeted Christians in a grenade and gun attack in the early morning of Oct. 6, 2016 that killed six people.

Al Shabaab reportedly took responsibility for the attack at a residential compound in Mandera, with a spokesman for the militants saying it was designed to drive Christians from the area. At least one of the victims was reportedly a Muslim.

The attack in Mandera, tucked in Kenya’s northeast corner near the Somali border, reportedly wounded several others. Among 27 people rescued were Christians who said the assailants shouted that Mandera was Muslim territory and that “infidels” should leave it.

The pastor of an area church told Morning Star News that two members of his congregation were among those killed.

On Jan. 31, 2016, in a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya, Al Shabaab rebels on Jan. 31 killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them.

An attack on a bus and a truck near Mandera by Al Shabaab insurgents took the lives of two Christians in December 2015, and on July 7, 2015, Al Shabaab killed 17 quarry workers near Mandera, including several Christians.

On Dec. 2, 2014, Al Shabaab killed 36 non-Muslims, most of them Christian, in an attack on quarry workers near Mandera.

The killings came after a Nov. 22, 2014 assault by Somali insurgents in the same area that left 28 non-Muslims dead, including 19 Christians.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Dec. 2 massacre, calling it vengeance for police raids on mosques in Kenya and Kenyan military involvement in displacing the Islamic extremist militants from Somalia.

Prior to the Nov. 22 attack, police raided and closed four mosques in Mombasa that they said were recruitment centers for Islamic terrorists.

Source: Morning Star News



Mogadishu attack: Ten killed in airport blasts

At least 10 people have been killed in two car bomb attacks near an entrance to the airport in Mogadishu, Somali police and eyewitnesses have said.

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A large plume of smoke rose into the sky after the blasts

Thick smoke could be seen rising from the area, where there is also a base for African Union (AU) peacekeepers.

Local journalists said one of the bombs was detonated by a suicide attacker near a checkpoint. Another blast hit the airport’s perimeter wall.

Those killed were believed to include security guards at the checkpoint.

The militant Islamist group, al-Shabab, has said it was behind the blasts and its target was the AU force’s headquarters.

The AU mission in Somalia condemned “these senseless attacks that aim to disrupt and cripple the lives of ordinary Somalis”.

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AU troops have been fighting al-Shabab is several areas of Somalia

Al-Shabab has carried out frequent attacks in Somalia, including in Mogadishu, in an attempt to oust the UN-backed government.

The group, which is allied to al-Qaeda, has been pushed out of most of the main towns it once controlled, but analysts say it remains a potent threat.

It has been increasing its attacks ahead of planned elections in Somalia.

Hotels have been attacked by car bombs and then armed assault teams over the past few weeks.

The large airport area in Mogadishu is a secure “green zone” for UN operations, the AU peacekeeping force and foreign embassies.

The Somali government, with the help of AU forces, is fighting al-Shabab militants in several parts of the country.

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Source:BBC News



Al-Qaeda holds Swiss missionary kidnapped in Mali for second time

Published: Feb. 15, 2016 by Illia Djadi

Al-Qaeda in Africa has claimed the kidnapping of the Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly who was abducted in Mali in January.

In an eight-minute video, in which Stockly appears dressed in a black hijab, a masked speaker with a British accent claims responsibility on behalf of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Beatrice Stockly is a Swiss nun who declared war against Islam in her attempt to Christianise Muslims,” the speaker said.

The conditions of her release include setting free AQIM fighters jailed in Mali and one of their leaders detained at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Switzerland has demanded her unconditional release.

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Beatrice Stockly, left, in Timbuktu 2000. She was first kidnapped in 2012 World Watch Monitor

AQIM, which is based in the Sahara Desert between Mali, Niger and Algeria, was involved in the January attack in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, that left 29 dead including a US missionary and six Canadians visiting the country on behalf of a church. Last week AQIM released Jocelyn Elliott, an Australian Christian woman kidnapped with her husband in northern Burkina Faso on the same day as the attack in the capital. The Islamist group said in an audio recording that it released Mrs Elliott so as “not to make women involved in the war”.

Stockly was taken from her home in Timbuktu by armed gunmen on 7 January. It was the second time she had been kidnapped by Islamists. The most important condition of her release, the speaker in the video said, was that she did not return to any Muslim land preaching Christianity. The Swiss government had warned her not to return to Mali after her release in 2012.

Below is WWM’s 11 January report on the kidnap of Beatrice Stockly.

Original report

A Swiss missionary abducted for 10 days in 2012 has been kidnapped again in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu, sources tell World Watch Monitor.

Beatrice Stockly was taken from her residence before dawn on 8 Jan. by armed men, who arrived in four pickup trucks, according to the sources, whose names are being kept confidential for their safety.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Militant Islamist groups are active in the region, where two attacks within the past seven weeks, one of them at a Christian radio station just before Christmas, have left 25 people dead.

A local church leader, who claimed to have previously worked with Stockly, told World Watch Monitor the missionary settled in Timbuktu in 2000, working for a Swiss church, before starting work alone, unaffiliated with any church.

He said Stockly is in her forties and leads an austere life, selling flowers and handing out Christian material. She was described as sociable, particularly among women and children.

Her home is in Abaradjou, a popular district of Timbuktu frequented by armed jihadist groups. She was taken from that same residence in April 2012, when northern Mali was occupied by armed Islamist groups. She was released 10 days later, following mediation led by neighbouring Burkina Faso.

During the 2012 occupation, Christians, a minority in Mali, have paid a heavy price. For most of the year, armed Islamist groups ruled the region, banning the practice of other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship.

Thousands, including many Christians, fled and found refuge in the south, or in neighbouring countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso. Others fled to Bamako, the capital, and other safer towns in the south.

Unlike other Christians, Stockly remained in the city. At her mother and brother’s urging, she returned to Switzerland after her 2012 kidnap, but soon returned, saying, ‘‘It’s Timbuktu or nothing’’.

Growing insecurity

The Mali government and the predominantly Tuareg rebel groups signed a peace agreement in June 2015, with limited impact. Jihadist groups have regained ground and intensified attacks, targeting Mali security forces and UN peacekeepers. Their scope has spread to southern regions previously spared by their incursions.

On 17 Dec., three men were killed when an unidentified gunman opened fire outside Radio Tahanint (Radio Mercy in the local dialect), which is closely linked with a Baptist Church in Timbuktu. Hamar Oumar Dicko and Samuel Dicko worked for the station; Abdal Malick Ag Alher was a visiting friend.

Dr. Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara, President of the Baptist Church in Mali, told World Watch Monitor at the time that Christians were “shocked to see what happened”.

“We are trying to find out what happened, but for now we don’t have any explanation,” he said.

“It’s a Christian radio station that was broadcasting messages of peace lately. One of the young men who was shot last night, he had just finished broadcasting and his last words were about peace.”

“Insecurity is everywhere in Mali,” Yattara said. “The situation is very frail, but we didn’t see a particular threat to the community.”

About one month earlier, terrorists killed 22 people at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. The government imposed a state of emergency that expired on 22 Dec., then extended it to 31 March.

It is thought that the abduction of Stockly is the first of a foreigner since the kidnapping and killing of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, in the northeastern town of Kidal in November 2013.

Source: World Watch Monitor