NAIROBI, KENYA- As Christians in a north eastern Kenyan compound slept, militant islamic group al-Shabab launched a violent grenade and gun attack, killing six and injuring an unknown number of others.
The incident, part of a series of attacks against Christian communities, was designed to drive Christians and non-sympathetic Muslims away from the area.
Many of the targeted Christians are skilled workers contributing to the building of local hospitals and schools. Regular violence against Christians near the Somali border is common.
A spokesman for al-Shabab, Sheikh Abdiasis Musab, told international news media over the radio that the attack went as planned, and demanded that Christians and unsympathetic Muslims leave the area immediately.
“We are behind the Mandera attack in which we killed six Christians,” Sheikh Musab said on Friday morning.
Local reports claim that the militants, wearing Kenyan army uniforms, entered the compound under the pretext of securing the area, a gated building in Mandera County, near the Somalian border town Beled Hawo.
Once inside, explosive devices were used to create a distraction- first in a mobile money transfer shop around 2:45 AM and then another area in the center of the compound before militants began opening fire indiscriminately.
A local telecommunications site was also targeted as a distraction from the attack.
Police forced the attackers out of the building, rescuing 27 people and attempting to retrieve bodies, but retreated when they were met with more explosive devices. Land mines are still believed to be planted all around the compound, which is being searched by anti-explosive teams.
Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, operates openly in the southern and central regions of Somalia. Recent attacks aimed at Christians on buses and in Christian communities have left hundreds dead.
In April 2015, al-Shabab killed 148 people in Kenya’s nearby Garissa University College. Militants reportedly separated Muslims from Christians, shooting Christians while freeing many Muslims.