Latest killings come amid wider concerns about rising Islamic extremism in Kenya and other African nations.
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)– Evangelical Christians are mourning the death of two pastors who were killed on Kenya’s coast over the weekend amid concerns about growing pressure on devoted believers in the African nation, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, October 23.
Among those killed 41-year-old Charles Matole, the leader of Mombasa’s Vikwatani Redeemed Gospel Church, who was found dead in the church Sunday morning, sitting on a chair with a Bible on his lap, church members said.
He was apparently preparing his Sunday morning service. “We found him with blood oozing from the head,” explained choir member Morris Ali.
Police said preliminary investigations indicate he was shot in the head from behind by assailants who escaped without stealing anything.
Kisauni police boss Joseph Kioko told local media that police was still searching for suspects who appeared well trained “”hit-men” who could have trailed him from his home.
The pastor’s wife Claris Mathole said her husband left the house at 10 pm local time for prayers in preparation for Sunday services. She confirmed he had recently received death threats, including in text messages.
“He had received threatening death messages from unknown people. It was reported to the police but it was latter concluded that the threats were sent by fraudsters from inside prisons,” Claris was quoted as saying by local media.
His brother George Kiraga said the neighbors were “unhappy about the presence of the church” situated within a residential area of port city Mombasa.
In an apparently unrelated killing in the town of Kilifi, about 60 kilometres (35 miles) north of Mombasa, the body of a pastor with the East African Pentecostal Churches, Ebrahim Kidata, was found dumped in a patch of bushes, congregation members said.
Kilifi county deputy speaker Teddy Mwambire said the cleric, who was in his mid-fifties and who was ordained just a few weeks earlier, appeared to have been strangled.
His relatives told media they had lost phone contact with him on Saturday, October 19, as he travelled by motorbike between two towns in the region.
Local officials said his motorcycle was stolen by the killers.
The latest killings came just two weeks after the murder of Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Ismaila, a popular Muslim preacher, and three other people sparked deadly riots in Mombasa.
Rioters set fire to a Protestant church of the Salvation Army charity and clashed with police in furious street battles that killed four protesters. Church leaders of the Mombasa Church Forum umbrella group have condemned the murder and demanded a thorough investigation
It comes amid concerns among devoted Christians about rising Islamic extremism in Kenya, which recently included an attack by gunmen of the al Qaida-linked Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, in which scores of people died.
The nation of 43 million is approximately 45 percent Protestant, 30 percent Catholic, and 10 percent Muslim, according to church estimates.