Al Shabab kill 36 workers in Kenya, beheading some

A group of about 50 heavily-armed people walked into the camp next to the quarry as the workers were sleeping and killed those who could not recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed, witnesses said.

NAIROBI // Al Shabab militants from Somalia killed 36 quarry workers in northern Kenya on Tuesday, prompting Kenya’s president to announce a security shakeup, firing his interior minister and accepting the resignation of the national police chief.

President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed an opposition politician and retired army general, Joseph Nkaissery, as the new interior minister in charge of security.

“I know we are all under a lot of pressure, but I appeal to each one of us: This is not a time to be cowed by the enemy. This is a war we must win,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The assailants managed to escape after the attack in Mandera County near the border with Somalia – the second in 10 days.

The Al Shabab, which has been battling for years to establish hardline Islamic rule in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the killings.

A group of about 50 heavily-armed people walked into the camp next to the quarry at 12.30am as the workers were sleeping and fired warning shots, said one of the survivors Peter Nderitu, who works at the quarry.

Mr Nderitu said he ran and hid in a trench when he heard gunshots. From his hideout, he could hear his colleagues being asked to recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed. Then gunshots followed.

He only rose from his hiding place two hours later when he was sure there was no more movement.

The bodies of his colleagues were in two rows and nearly all had been shot in the back of the head, he said.

The gunmen singled out non-Muslims and killed them, said the police. The quarry camp is in the Koromey area on the outskirts of Mandera town.

Al Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said the latest attack was a response to Kenya’s troop presence in Somalia and alleged atrocities committed by the Kenyan army there, such as a recent airstrike. The Kenyan government said the airstrike was in response to the Al Shabab attack on bus passengers in Mandera County 10 days ago which killed 28 people.

In that attack, the non-Muslims were also separated from other passengers and shot dead.

About 100 non-Muslims last week sought refuge at the army base in Mandera, demanding that the government evacuate them.

The quarry attack came hours after a hotel in Wajir, also in northern Kenya, was hit by a grenade and gunfire, killing one person and wounding 13, said police.

Al Shabab has vowed to attack Kenya for sending its troops into Somalia to fight the rebels. The Kenyan military was deployed to Somalia in October 2011. Since then Kenya has experienced a series of explosive and gun attacks blamed on the militants.Mr Kenyatta has been criticised for not cutting short a four-day official visit to the UAE, after 28 people were killed in the bus attack.

Public anger increased after pictures emerged on social media appearing to show Mr Kenyatta in a selfie at a social event and reports from media that he was attending Formula 1 championships in Abu Dhabi instead of addressing the security crisis at home.* Associated Press

Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM

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