12 Kenyan Churches Attacked in Five Months
Washington, D.C. (October 1, 2012) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Al Shabaab, an Islamic militant group, is believed to be responsible for throwing a grenade at Christian children during a Sunday school service in Nairobi, Kenya on September 30. One child was killed and at least 12 others were injured in what is reportedly the twelfth attack on Kenyan churches by Islamic militants in the past five months.
A nine-year-old boy was killed by while singing worship hymns during Sunday school at St. Polycarp Anglican church near Eastleigh, a district of Nairobi. Twelve others were wounded in the assault, including six children who are in critical condition, the Red Cross reported. Police suspect the attack is the work of Al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda.
“I just heard two loud explosions and then everything went quiet. Then I heard screams. Everything was in disarray,” Imam Hussein, an Ethiopian Christian convert from Islam who arrived at the scene immediately after the attack, told ICC.
The incident follows similar grenade attacks on Kenyan churches, including an attack on the African Inland Church of Garissa on July 1 when Al Shabaab militants detonated grenades and opened fire on congregants, killing 17 people, including 15 worshippers.
More recently, five churches near Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city were set ablaze by rioters on August 27. Al Shabaab released a statement the next day saying, “Muslims must… stand united against the Kuffar [non-Muslims] and take all necessary measures to protect their religion, their honor, their property and their lives from the enemies of Islam.”
According to the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), violent assaults have targeted eleven churches in the past five months prior to the grenade attack on St. Polycarp Anglican church on Sunday. “Christians have been killed, injured or maimed for life,” Peter Karanja, the general-secretary of the NCCK, said in a statement released in August. “The violence appears well planned, pre-meditated, and systematic. In the last five months alone, 11 churches have been attacked.”
Escalating violence has Christians concerned that Islamic extremism—carried out by al-Shabaab and its sympathizers—is on the rise in Kenya. “Pastors and Christians are very afraid,” said Hussein. “I know people, mainly Christian converts, who had to leave their homes and their families because of pressure from these terrorists. It’s very dangerous. Although these militants are very few in Kenya, they are very fanatic, like al-Qaeda or the Taliban.”
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, said, “Al Shabaab adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law that condones amputating the hands of thieves, stoning adulterous women, and brutally murdering, and even beheading, Christians. Al Shabaab has infiltrated into the predominantly Christian country of Kenya where they are imposing their radical Islamic ideology and carrying out vicious assaults on Kenya Christians and their places of worship. While the Kenyan government has taken steps to prevent terrorism in their country by sending troops into Somalia last October, more must to be done to protect the Christian community. Kenyan authorities must take every action possible to go after Al Shabaab in their homeland and prevent militants from crossing the Somali border into Kenya or else Christians will continue to be victims of violent extremism.”
For interviews, contact William Stark: RM-AfricaAsia@persecution.org
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