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Al-Shabaab gunmen slaughter Christian Kenyan workers in their sleep.
The Somalian terror group has launched a series of successful attacks both in Somalia and in neighouring Kenya which will heighten security concerns ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to his ancestral homeland on July 24
Kenyan quarry workers were shot dead as they slept early on Tuesday morning in the latest attack by Islamist militant group al-Shabaab along the country’s vulnerable northeastern border with Somalia.
The group stormed the workers’ residential complex in the remote village of Soko Mbuzi in the province of Mandera at around 1am, breaking open a gate using a petrol bomb then hurling grenades and shooting at those who fled.
A total of 14 people died, according to a local government official, including a woman who was shot dead after begging for her life. Another 11 seriously injured people were airlifted to nearby hospitals.
Al-Shabaab has launched a series of large and smaller-scale attacks on civilians in Kenya and soldiers tasked with supressing the group in its birthplace of Somalia in recent months.
The latest incidents are likely to increase scrutiny on security measures both sides of the border ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya at the end of the month.
The Soko attack is the second on quarry workers - 36 died in December in the same county. The latest victims are thought to have been almost exclusively Christian and largely immigrants, in keeping with a pattern of al-Shabaab attacks, which are mainly focused on the border area between Kenya and Somalia.
Alex Ole Nkoyo, the Mandera county commissioner, said the Soko attack bore the hallmarks of al-Shabaab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda and has a policy of targeting non-Muslims.
“They destroyed metal grilled doors before they bombed the houses and opened fire on the innocent victims,” Mr Nkoyo told The Standard newspaper.
The group later claimed responsibility for the attack. Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, its military operations spokesman, told Reuters its gunmen killed more than 10 Kenyan Christians.
Joseph Nkaissery, the interior cabinet secretary, said police responded quickly to the attack and saved 136 other people living in the complex.
"The intention of the heinous murderers was to take siege of the quarters with the aim of executing the 150 residents of the estate,” he was quoted as saying by the Standard.
Kenya has been repeatedly targeted by al-Shabaab because it contributes around 3,000 troops to an African Union force (Amisom) tackling the extremist group in Somalia.
The group has been behind a series of major attacks on Kenyan soil, most recently the assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September 2013 that killed at least 70 people including expatriates, and the storming of Garissa University in April this year which resulted in 149 deaths.
But it is also responsible for a constant trickle of smaller attacks along the border, claiming lives and gathering weapons to be used in further attacks.
On June 26, the group dealt a major blow to the Amisom force, overrunning a base manned by Burundian troops 60 miles north of the Somalian capital Mogadishu, killing as many as 50 soldiers and beheading some of them. In photographs posted online, it showed off a massive cache of weapons it had taken. Amisom reportedly withdrew from 10 towns as a result.
Although comparatively far from the capital Nairobi, where Barack Obama will arrive on July 24, such attacks have piled pressure on Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. Extra security teams have already been mobilised around the country and surveillance cameras have been installed across the capital.
The visit will be the first by Mr Obama to his father’s birthplace since he became president. His last visit to sub-Saharan Africa was to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December 2013. He also travelled to South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania earlier the same year.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, recently praised Kenya’s efforts to clamp down on al-Shabaab in Somalia. After the Garissa attack, Mr Obama said he would not cancel his July visit but stand “hand in hand” with the Kenyans against al-Shabaab.