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Kenya: terrorists strike at churches

06 July 2012

PA

Carnage: armed policeman at the Garissa Africa Inland Church, where ten people were killed by gunmen on Sunday

Carnage: armed policeman at the Garissa Africa Inland Church, where ten people were killed by gunmen on Sunday

FAITH leaders across Kenya have united to condemn the attacks this week on two churches, in which at least 17 people were killed and 66 wounded.

Police believe that the raids last Sunday, in the border town of Garissa, were the work of insurgents from the Somali group al-Shabab, which has links with al-Qaeda. The town is a staging point for Kenyan army operations against the rebels in Somalia.

Up to seven masked gunmen launched simultaneous gun and grenade assaults on the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Consolata, and on the Evangelical Garissa African Inland Church (AIC) during morning service.

The organising secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, said: "Any God-fearing person will not celebrate the death of innocent people who gather for the purpose of worship or any other cause."

The general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, Canon Peter Karanja, said that he was "deeply saddened" that worshippers were "mercilessly murdered by criminals who hid their faces because they could not face up to their dastardly acts".

The RC Archbishop of Nairobi, Cardinal John Njue, called on all Kenyans to work towards peaceful co-existence. "Fighting terrorism, extremism, and insecurity . . . is the duty of every Kenyan, since criminals and terrorists operate among us," he said.

Television footage from the AIC church showed blood on the floor and walls, and clothes, shoes, and Bibles strewn around. One worshipper, Paul Mwalali, told the Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation: "I had a front-row seat in the church. I heard something fall on the roof. Then there was a huge explosion. I fell on the ground. Then there was shooting, and people were screaming."

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