NAIROBI, Kenya — Islamist extremists from Somalia killed 36 quarry workers in northern Kenya early Tuesday, targeting non-Muslims just like an attack 10 days ago on bus passengers. The killings happened in Mandera County near the border with Somalia and the attackers escaped, Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said. The group al Shabab, which has been battling for years to establish hard-line Islamic rule in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the killings.
Peter Nderitu, who works at the quarry, said a group of heavily-armed people walked into their camp next to the quarry at 12:30 a.m. as the men were sleeping and fired warning shots. Nderitu said when he heard the shooting he ran and hid in a trench from where he could hear his colleagues being asked to recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed declaring oneness with God. Then gunshots followed. He said he rose from hiding two hours later when he was sure there was no more movement. He said the bodies of his colleagues were in two rows and that nearly all had been shot in the back of the head.
The gunmen singled out non-Muslims and killed them, said the police. 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. A Nov. 22 al Shabab attack on bus passengers in Mandera County left 28 people dead. In that attack, the non-Muslims were also separated from other passengers and shot dead.
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