Kenya: 12 killed in al-Shabab attack targeting Christians in Mandera
Kenya Red Cross workers stand near dead bodies after an attack by Islamist militants from the Somali group al Shabaab in Mandera, Kenya, October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer Reuters

Islamist militants struck again in Kenya's border town of Mandera, killing at least 12 people. Most of the dead were living in a guest house in the town, which has seen a spate of attacks on Christians by the al Shabab militants. The victims were in the town to take part in stage performances in local schools.

Local media reports had initially said the Bisharo Guest House hosted "non-local" people. The latest al Shabab attack in Mandera, which borders Somalia, was targeted at "Christian Kenyans" who were not from the local area, reports said citing pro-militant local sources.

"We don't know how many people are still trapped there in the rubble but efforts to reach them are ongoing," an officer on the ground told Kenya's Standard newspaper.

The official said the al Shabab gunmen escaped towards the Somalia border. Police said the casualties could be higher as efforts to rescue people under the ruble were hampered by the booby traps inside the guest house.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror outfit based in Somalia, has been carrying out attacks in the region with the stated aim of driving out Christians from the area.

Al Shabab carried out several attacks in Kenya since 2011 when the Kenyan government sent troops to Somalia to help crush the outfit.

Garissa University attack

The terror group has killed scores of Christians in the mainly Muslim area in recent years. In December 2014, the militants killed 38 Christians at quarry after separating them from Muslim workers. This was followed by the killing of 28 people whom the gunmen separated from the Muslim passengers in a bus they intercepted.

In April 2015, the al Shabab militants raided Kenya' north-eastern Garissa University College, killing 148 people. During the ghastly attack, the militants had singled out Christians and allowed the Muslims to escape.