Security forces on guard after Al-Shabaab terrorists killed 147 and injured 79 students at Garissa University College in Nairobi, Kenya, on 2 April 2015.

A number of the nine Kenyan men beheaded by Islamist militants Al-Shabaab on Friday night (11 July) belonged to a local church, local sources told World Watch Monitor.

One witness, Johnson Kitsao, told the Washington Post earlier the attackers were “specifically looking for non-Muslim men”.

The attack took place late in the evening in the Jima and Poromoko villages of south-eastern Kenya, targeting farmers from the Giriama and Kamba tribes – many of whom are Christians.

Another person was severely injured in the attack and is now in a critical condition in hospital.

“They were targeting only male residents,” Kitsao told the Washington Post. “They went from house to house, dragging out men. They managed to take with them 10 men. One of the men managed to escape, but the other nine were beheaded mercilessly.” Many of the locals have flocked to a local church compound in search of safety and relief aid, coordinated by the Red Cross.

The attack came two days after Al-Shabaab killed three policemen near the border with Somalia, where the group was founded.

Another witness, Johnson Ndokolane, said the number of casualties could have been greater, but that after the attack on the police station in Pandaguo, a lot of non-residents (mostly non-Muslims) had moved away. “They felt very insecure,” Ndokolane said. “The ones that remained were just the unlucky ones. They thought they were safe because of the heavy security presence after the attack.”