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Somali Christian minister shot dead in K...

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Somali Christian minister shot dead in Kenya; al-Shabaab suspected

Country/Region: Africa, Kenya, Somalia

A Somali Christian minister has been killed in a suspected al-Shabaab shooting in Kenya; another church leader was wounded in the attack.

A map showing the location of Kenya
A map showing the location of Kenya

The Rev. Abdi Welli and Pastor Ibrahim M. Makunyi were ambushed in Garissa’s main market on the morning of 7 February. They were both rushed to hospital, where Abdi was pronounced dead on arrival; Ibrahim, who sustained gunshot wounds, was described as stable.

Eyewitnesses reported that Abdi’s last words were, “It’s good to be in the hands of Al Shaddai”. He leaves behind a wife, Hellen, and three children.

Abdi converted from Islam to Christianity in 1990 and went on to become a missionary in west and east Africa. He went to Kenya in 2000 and was ordained as a minister in 2004.

Pastor Ibrahim, also from Somalia, is a minister in the East Africa Pentecostal Church. He led Abdi to the Lord and discipled him.

Somali Church leaders have been paying tribute to Abdi’s ministry. One described him as a “fearless evangelist, pastor and gifted missionary”; another said that he was “one of the finest ministers the Somali Church has ever produced”, adding:

The Somali Church is the Lord’s and he will protect it from the evil one. No degree of Muslim persecution will destroy the Somali Church.

Abdi’s Muslim relatives have demanded that they bury him in accordance with Islamic tradition. This often happens following the death of converts to Christianity.  

Christians in Kenya are increasingly coming under attack by Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, which has been behind a number of church blasts. The violence has intensified over the last year or so after Kenya sent troops into Somalia to fight al-Shabaab, whom it accused of being behind a spate of kidnappings and cross-border attacks. More than 20 Christians have been killed in Garissa in recent Islamic terrorist attacks.

Somali Christians are particularly vulnerable. Al-Shabaab has made repeated threats against converts from Islam and has carried them out with numerous killings. 

Amid the tensions, Kenya is preparing for a general election on 4 March. Following the previous election in 2007, there was a severe outbreak of violence in which more than 1,200 people died.

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