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Two Christian pastors were murdered in separate attacks in Kenya on Sunday, officials shared, with one found with a Bible on his lap sitting in a chair, preparing for Sunday morning service.
"We found him with blood oozing from the head," choir member Morris Ali said of Pastor Charles Matole, leader of Mombasa's Vikwatani Redeemed Gospel Church, according to Sapa-AFP.
Ali added that Matole had received death threats by text message before the incident.
A police investigation has been launched into the case, with clues suggesting that the attackers were well-trained hit-men who could have followed the pastor from his home, AllAfrica.com reported. Matole was shot from behind, and a cartridge from a pistol was recovered from the scene, but nothing was reported to be stolen.
"He had received threatening death messages from unknown people. It was reported to the police but it was later concluded that the threats were sent by fraudsters from inside prisons," added his wife, Claris Matole.
The other incident took place in the town of Kilifi, north of Mombasa, where pastor Ebrahim Kidata of the East African Pentecostal Churches was found murdered in a patch of bushes. Kilifi county deputy speaker Teddy Mwambire confirmed that the cleric, in his mid-fifties and appointed just a few weeks earlier, appeared to have been strangled. His motorcycle was also stolen.
The attacks occurred two weeks after a Muslim preacher was found dead in Mombasa, which sparked riots across the port city. Four other people were killed alongside cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail in the drive-by shooting on Oct. 3, though the gunmen have not yet been identified.
The riots turned violent and attackers burned down a Salvation Army Church, reports revealed, leading to Muslims clashing with police, who fired back with gunshots and teargas.
Kenyan policed denied accusations that they may have been linked with the sheik's assassination, however.
"The police have nothing to do with the shooting. That's not how we operate," Mombasa county police chief Robert Kitur told reporters following the incident.
The assassination followed the major terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi in September where 67 people were killed in a mass shooting, carried out by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group. The Islamic terrorists captured hostages and engaged in a shootout with security forces, making headline news around the world.