Al Shabaab militants have claimed responsibility for shooting dead a Somali intelligence officer as he walked to mosque in Mogadishu and ramming a suicide truck into an African Union military base in Beledweyne.
The group, which aims to overthrow the Western-backed government in Somalia, also targeted Kenya, killing at least 12 people identified as “non-Muslims” in an attack on a guesthouse in northeastern Kenya. The three attacks, all on Oct. 25, mark an uptick in violence before Somalia votes on new members of its parliament.
The attack in northeastern Kenya is also the latest effort by the Somali-based group to rid the Kenyan city of Mandera of Christians and other non-Muslims. Mandera, near the Kenyan border with Somalia, has become the latest focus of al Shabaab’s campaign of retribution against Kenya for contributing to the African Union mission fighting the Islamist group.
Kenyan authorities said assailants used explosives to gain entry and destroy a guesthouse in Mandera. Authorities are still searching for survivors in the rubble. According to local media, the victims were mostly university students, part of a visiting theater group. Kenyan police say 12 people have died, while al-Shabaab claims 15 were killed.
“We don’t know how many people are still trapped there in the rubble but efforts to reach them are ongoing,” an officer at the scene told the Standard, a Kenyan newspaper.
Earlier this month, al-Shabaab attacked a residential building in Mandera, killing six people. In 2014, al-Shabaab fighters hijacked a bus, forcing non-Muslims to separate themselves from the group. Twenty-eight people were killed.
The campaign to intimidate Christians may be working. Abdi Rizak, a member of Mandera’s county assembly, said some residents are leaving town. ”They live in fear. Every night people hear guns around the town,” he told the Washington Post.
Mandera is also the site of one of the country’s best known recent examples of resilience. Last December, militants stopped a bus and demanded that all non-Muslims be separated from the group, but Muslim passengers on the bus refused.