"Kenyan pastors murdered as tensions, violence escalate" By Julia A. Seymour, World Mag, Nov. 4, 2013
Assailants killed two evangelical pastors in Kenya late last month, following anonymous threats and a government crackdown on Islamic extremists in the region. At least one church leader reacted by calling for firearms and greater security for churches.
The murders of Charles Mathole in Mombasa and Ibrahim Kithaka in a town less than 40 miles away came days after Muslim riots spurred by the drive-by shooting of an imam in Mombasa. Rioters burned down a Salvation Army building and four were killed during the protests, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM).
An assailant shot Mathole in the back while he was praying in the sanctuary of Redeemed Gospel Church. Mathole was found dead with his Bible on his lap. His widow, Claris, told The Star newspaper he had earlier received anonymous threats. Kithaka pastored an East African Pentecostal church.
A spokesman with International Christian Concern (ICC) said the pastors’ killings appear to be retaliation for police and security crackdowns on Islamic extremists.
ICC’s regional manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said the attacks were designed “to intimidate and to send a message to the Christians and the Kenyan government." Kenyan Muslims say they are being targeted by the government in the war on terrorism, according to Religion News Service. This has increased tensions in the majority Christian nation, especially in predominantly Muslim coastal towns.
Mathole wasn’t the only pastor threatened. One pastor told WWM, “Church leaders have all received threatening text messages in the past, but they have increased since the sheikh was killed.”
According to WWM, the messages from an unknown number say, “Be prepared, we are coming for you.”