The Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab has reportedly killed seven Christians during door-to-door raids in Kenya earlier this month.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), seven Christian men and three police officers were killed after members of al-Shabaab raided the villages of Pandanguo, Jima, and Poromoko between July 5 and July 8.
Over 200 militants reportedly took part in the raid in Pandaguo village in Lamu County on July 5, killing three police officers posted at the Pandaguo police station. On July 8, 15 members of the terror group reportedly attacked the nearby villages of Jima and Poromoko.
Previous reports indicated that nine civilians were beheaded in Jima, Lamu County in the terror group’s hunt for non-Muslims, though more information is now being released about the victims.
According to a local pastor, the militants were searching for Christians to kill. “The attackers have been targeting Christians living in Lamu County, especially farmers in the interior areas where small-scale agriculture thrives,” said Pastor Henry Divayo, head of the church in Witu town.
“[The militants in Jima] were asking the villagers to produce their identification cards and if you were found to be a Christian you would be shot or slaughtered,” he added.
Divayo said that victims have been sent to camps where the government and the Kenya Red Cross are providing food and security.
“We are hosting more than 200 people in our church and we expect the number to increase as more families are evacuated from Boni Forest,” he went on to say.
The pastor called on the Kenyan government to provide more help in terms of equipping police officers to protect churches, schools and hospitals.
Al-Shabaab and its supporters have been targeting Christians across the border in Kenya in retaliation against the Kenyan government’s efforts to fight the terror group.
The deadliest attack by the group was carried out on April 2, 2015 at the Garissa University, where 148 Christian students were killed.
Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, overtook Boko Haram as the deadliest terror group in Africa in 2016, according to figures released by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The new figures indicated that al-Shabaab was responsible for 4,281 deaths compared with 3,499 by Boko Haram.
The U.S. military has been conducting air strikes against al-Shabaab bases in Somalia, and U.S. President Donald Trump has recently authorized the expansion of the operations to completely eradicate the terror group.
In response, the militants took aim at Trump in a newly released video, calling him a “brainless billionaire,” and accusing American voters of electing “arguably the most stupid president a country could ever have.”
The al-Shabaab vowed to continue its attacks on Kenya and warned that the government’s military operations against the terror group will destabilize the country.
“Your military’s invasion of Somalia will continue to destabilize your country. When we do strike, your government will not be able to protect you,” the terror group stated.