But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:20). GARISSA TERRORIST ATTACKS IN 2020

The intensity of Al-Shabab attacks in the region along the Kenya Somali border and Garissa is terrifying. The shooting of 3 teachers on Monday 13th January in Garissa has left us worried. This was not the first time Christian teachers were killed by Al-Shabaab in the area. But the increased frequency and the plain helplessness to stop the attacks are concerning. And it sticks out as a cruel reminder of the danger and venerability we are exposed to. Apart from God, we are on our own.  

The intensity of the Al-Shabaab offensive in this region is frightening. A week into the new year, we have had 3 terrorist attacks that have left 10 fatalities (not counting the dead insurgents). 

 Al-Shabaab militants attacked a bus in the Nyongoro area, Lamu County, on Thursday 2 January, with three people losing their lives in the incident. Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers killed four suspected Al-Shabab fighters and captured one following the attack.

What caught our attention was the pre-dawn raid in Lamu on 5th January. KDF Spokesperson Col Paul Njuguna said, that around 5.30 am al-Shabaab attempted to breach security at Manda Air Strip, but they successfully repulsed the attempted breach. There were damages done to the aircraft but KDF reports that the airstrip is safe. 

Two days later, on January 7th, the Al-Shabaab terrorist made another pre-dawn attack in Dadaab of Garissa County, killing four people. Area Deputy Commissioner Kibet Bowen said they killed four Somali locals including a teacher in an exchange of fire. The terrorist though shot dead four children in Saretho village, near Garissa. The Somali children were boarders and they had been housed in teachers’ houses. They shot at them thinking they were Christian teachers, only to realize they were mistaken. On realizing their mistake, the al-Shabaab got in to bandage some of the wounded children. According to the Police, the attackers had also targeted telecommunication masts in the area. Later, the police killed two of the terrorists and recovered two AK47 rifles and two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the slain men.

The terrorists focused their gaze on Garissa town’s Bulla Iftin area. We got to School (GAP) on Friday 10th of January to the news that our school was in imminent danger of attack by the Al-Shabaab terrorists. The Safaricom communication mast in the school compound was a perfect match for their pattern of attack, besides those at the school. But this was the plot was foiled as it became public knowledge and needed security measures taken.  

It appears that the terrorists shifted their gaze on Kamuthe 30 Km away from Garissa Town. The attack at Kamuthe primary school occurred Monday 13th at around 2 am, where according to the police, the terrorists attacked Kamuthe primary school, Kamuthe Police Post, a telecommunications mast and murdered 3 teachers, and burned the police station in their wake.  

This attack affected us as well. The majority of teachers at Kamuthe primary in the northeastern region of Kenya, come from the Christian parts of the country. They were therefore accommodated in staff waters at the compound. There were seven staff members and family in this school compound residential unit. These included six teachers; five male (one living with the wife) and one female, and the seventh was a female nurse serving at the dispensary.  

During the attack, they killed 3 teachers: Caleb Mutangia Mushindi (28years), Titus Sasieka Mushindi (29years), and Samwel Mutua (29years). But Joshua Mutua (30 years) survived although he suffered 2 gunshot wounds on his lower leg and is undergoing treatment at Garissa general hospital. But Mr. Robert Kivuti (53 years), one of the teachers, escaped into the night. climbed a tree escaping the notice of the terrorist and stayed there most of the night. Meanwhile, his wife also survived for she hid under the bed all this time. 

Mr. Titus Mushindi, killed in this incident, is the husband of Ruth Mushindi, a teacher at GAP. And he is a cousin to Caleb also killed in this incident. Titus was a Keyboard player during the Sunday worship of 12th January at St. Peters ACK Garissa, where he is a faithful member. He would have traveled to his station early Monday morning, as he had done often. But this time, the Headteacher demanded his presence at the school Monday morning. The Headteacher was scheduled to be way taking his daughter to a school outside the region. So, Titus had to travel to Kamuthe that Sunday afternoon. 

Titus feared for his security, because of the heightened attacks, he, therefore, requested prayers for safety from the praise and worship members. He left Garissa town at 4 pm using public transport and arrived that evening. At 11 pm he spoke on phone to his wife Ruth at Garissa Academy and his son Baraka wishing them good night. The terrorists woke him up at 1 pm to face their death. Even with odds against them, Titus met death as he attempted to resist the attackers. 

Mr. Samuel Mutua Kamba had graduated from Garissa University. He had survived the Garissa University terror attack of 2 April 2015 that left 149 students dead and many injured. He did not escape this time.   

In a curious move that night, the terrorist spared the female teacher and the nurse with her infant child. They made the nurse recite the Shahada and confess Islam, and she obliged. She was then marched to the dispensary where they looted the medicine available and items they deemed of value.

As the terrorist left, they sprayed the house of the headteacher with bullets in frustration of not finding him.  

 The existence of a police-post nearby did not deter the attack, nor did it repulse terror. It did not matter, for the police at Kamuthe police-post, must have heard the gunshots that killed the teachers and fled abandoning their station. The terrorists burnt down the police post before bombing the telecommunication mast in the market. Police have since identified the mastermind of the attack as Maulid Bilal, who is wanted for leading attacks in the Fafi and Hulugho regions. 

We appeal to the security agents to double their efforts and devise appropriate security strategies to protect Christians and local Somalis in the region. The terror attacks have now paralyzed education services to the local population, for all schools apart from those in Garissa town are closed. 

The eye of the storm is on us. We mourn in grief for our departed brothers. We are concerned about how we must live in this tension. We contemplate what future may be ours. May God make us more aware of his presence with us.

Please pray with us: 

          Strengthen the weary hands, make firm the feeble knees. 

                                       Say to the anxious:

 Be strong, fear not, your God is coming with judgment. Coming with judgment to save you.

          The ransomed of the Lord shall return and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Canon Omondi (15 January 2020)