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World News

Terror group threatens non-local Christians to leave north-eastern Kenya

by Tola Mbakwe

East African militant group Al-Shabaab has warned all non-local Christians to leave three counties in north-eastern Kenya. 

According to US religious freedom charity International Christian Concern (ICC), the terror organisation released a 20-minute audio clip online on 23rd February with strict orders for Somali-Kenyans to evict all non-Muslims living and working in Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera if they do not leave voluntarily.

The spokesman said: "Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the north-eastern province are unemployed. Isn't it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers.

The three counties that border Somalia in the northeast of Kenya have mainly Somali refugees who fled violent-conflict in their country.

Rev Cosmas Mwinzi from the Assemblies of God in Garissa said Christians in that region have always been made to unwelcomed.  

"This is not news at all because the conduct of the local people here has always suggested that they want us to leave," he said. 

"This region has been unstable for years due to war in Somalia and hatred against non-locals who are mostly Christians. 

"The levels of education and infrastructure in the three counties are low and it is only through the expertise and hard work of the non-locals that the living standard of the Somali people in Kenya can improve. We have non-locals in all sectors, from health to education."

Al-Shabaab's warning comes after three Christian teachers were killed in Garissa last month. Non-local teachers have also been made to transfer to other schools outside north-eastern Kenya. 

ICC said most of the teachers who were not transferred have requested to move after a recent bus attack in Mandera in which to non-local Christian workers were killed. 

Christian teacher Fredrick Kitonyo who has yet to be transferred told ICC: "I left my work station in January and I was among the first bunch of teachers to present themselves to the Teachers Service Commission requesting for transfers.

"I have not been given a new posting letter yet and if I do not get it, I will not return to Garissa. I am ready for interdiction."

ICC's regional manager for Africa Nathan Johnson said: "This release is terrible news for Christians living and working in eastern Kenya. They already live with increased fear and anxiety, as many have had to travel to find work.

"Now with this threat, it is clear that al-Shabaab will be increasing attacks on Christians who are simply trying to provide for their families."

During a meeting about a lack of security for non-local teachers in north-eastern Kenya, the Inspector-General of Police expressed his concerns about the Somalis in Kenya who know important information about planned al-Shabaab attacks, but don't inform police. 

Hillary Nzioki Mutyambai said:  "Security alone cannot provide a solution in this region. It is only the non-local teachers at Kamuthe Primary School who were not aware of that attack. 

"The students knew there was going to be an attack. Local teachers during the material day of the attack were absent. We have argued that the local component is very important to complement the security operation."

The US Embassy in Kenya has issued a security alert about a suspected hotel attack targeting tourists, locals, and business travellers

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