Al-Shabaab warns all Christians to leave northeastern Kenya immediately

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has “ordered” Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya to allow local Muslims to get all local jobs, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers,” al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, said in an audio clip posted online, referring to the counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.

In the 20-minute clip, the spokesman urged Somali-Kenyans to drive all non-Muslims out if they do not leave on their own.

Al-Shabaab is al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia and operates primarily out of the country’s southern and central regions in this undated file photo. | Photo: Reuters

The majority of the people living in the three counties are Somalis, who fled to Kenya due to war and violence in Somalia.

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has “ordered” Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya to allow local Muslims to get all local jobs, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers,” al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, said in an audio clip posted online, referring to the counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.

In the 20-minute clip, the spokesman urged Somali-Kenyans to drive all non-Muslims out if they do not leave on their own.

The majority of the people living in the three counties are Somalis, who fled to Kenya due to war and violence in Somalia.

Last Wednesday, two Christians were reported to be among three people killed after suspected al-Shabaab militants attacked a bus carrying passengers to the capital of Nairobi from a market town near the Ethiopian and Somalian borders.

Haji Abass, the owner of the Kenya-based Moyale Raha bus company, told The Associated Press that the militants were in police uniform and tried to flag down the bus. However, the bus driver kept on going because he knew there were no police stops along the route. At that point, the militants shot at the bus, flattened the back tires and injured the driver. 

After the bus went into a ditch, militants allegedly pulled the passengers out and killed two non-Muslims and one Muslim. Two others were injured.

Kenya ranks as the 44th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.

Al-Shabaab has fought for years to overthrow the Somali government. The group has been responsible for attacks on both sides of the Somalia and Kenya border as it has long vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending in troops to Somalia to fight the group. 

In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out one of its deadliest attacks when it stormed the campus of Garissa University. On that occasion, militants were said to have separated Muslims from non-Muslims and proceeded to execute all non-Muslim students. At least 148 people were killed in the attack.