Four Kenyan Christians were brutally murdered by Al-Qaeda affiliated militants last week after refusing to recite the Shahada – the Islamic statement of faith.
Joseph Kasena, 42, a local church leader was hacked to death alongside his brother-in-law Changawa Muthemba and 17-year-old neighbour Kadenge Katana when they refused to repeat the prayer. The radical Islamists then turned on Joseph's mentally unwell older brother Charo and killed him too, according to World Watch Monitor.
The attack – carried out by Al-Shabaab militants – is part of a spate of incidents targeting Kenyan Christians close to the Somalia border where the group originated.
Last month the terror cell beheaded nine Kenyans, some from a local church, with one witness telling the Washington Post they were 'specifically looking for non-Muslim men'.
Al-Shabaab is believed to use Boni, a forest that straddles the Kenyan-Somali border, as cover to launch attacks on villages on the Kenyan side.
The assailants are mainly believed to be Kenyan youths radicalised and trained in Somalia before returning to their country. Church leaders say they are brainwashed, radicalised and recruited on the basis of promises of a better life and benefits for their family.
'We believe that some people have been paid by the militants to ensure a constant supply of young fighters,' said Fr Wilybard Lagho, vicar general of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa. 'At first, they used schools and madrassas, but that has since changed after the security and religious leaders became alert. They are now using social media to recruit. There is a lot of deception.'
Now Al-Shabaab militants are 'deeply embedded' in local communities, according to one local source quoted by World Watch Monitor.
'They move around freely and often are at odds with the Kenyan farmers, deliberately sending their animals to feed on their crops,' the source said. 'Locals complain that the police are not doing anything about the situation and even show preferential treatment to the herders. Earlier that day, some locals met with the Somali herdsmen, who threatened them. But this was not the reason for the attack; it only provided the opportunity for it. Al-Shabaab knew these men as Christians, and Joseph as a church elder.'