Date: January 3, 2020
Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that three passengers have been confirmed dead and several others critically injured after suspected al-Shabaab militants attacked a Lamu-bound public service vehicle at Nyongoro area, Lamu West in southeastern Kenya. A security officer at the scene of the incident confirmed to ICC, “The incident happened at noon [on] Thursday, January 2, 2020, after the Mombasa Raha bus was ambushed by heavily armed Somali-based militant members that ordered the vehicle to stop. The driver defied their orders, causing the terrorists to open fire randomly towards the bus. This led to the shooting of three people and many others injured.”
Highway patrol officers responded quickly and, after a severe exchange of fire, scattered the attackers who fled into the bush. “One of those on the bus quickly made a call to the local security services after the attack. The police on duty arrived in time to rescue many of the injured passengers. The injured have been taken to the hospital and the bus [was] towed. Identities of the victims, who are believed to be non-local Christians returning to Lamu after spending the Christmas season in upcountry, have not yet been established,” said the security officer.
Residents of Witu and Mpeketoni have expressed fears following the attack. A local pastor in Witu town noted, “There is always a tendency of attacking villages and towns after terrorists attack vehicles. This has been like a pattern; hence we are scared that more attacks might follow.”
Al-Shabaab has become notorious for its tactic of stopping buses, forcing passengers to separate by religion, and executing the Christians on board. This been happening in Lamu county, and the rest of eastern Kenya, for nearly five years now. Despite the Kenyan police working hard to prevent these attacks, they continue to plague Lamu and Mandera counties heavily. A similar incident took place in Mandera on December 6, 2019, when 11 Christians were separated from other passengers and killed.
Yesterday’s attack comes two weeks after Kenyan intelligence officials issued an alert regarding possible terror attacks during the holiday season. Multi-agency security officers are currently combing the area to catch the culprits who are believed to have come from the dense Boni Forest, which stretches from Lamu to Somalia and is regularly used by al-Shabaab to conduct these types of attacks.
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “Less than three weeks ago, I was driving through this exact route. It is hard to imagine that the beautiful and peaceful looking forest could be home to such a travesty. I thank God for the brave actions of the driver who likely saved many lives by not stopping, and for the quick response by the Kenyan police who are working so hard to protect their people. Al-Shabaab must be stopped. Their continued targeting of Christians in Kenya shows just how much they hate other faiths. They cross international borders and execute dozens of people each year for the sole fact that they follow Jesus Christ.”
HOW TO PRAY: Pray for the families that lost loved ones during this attack. Praise God for the driver who likely saved many lives. Pray for healing for all those who were injured.