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Kenya : Police Probe Phone Link in Church Radio Attack
All Africa P olice yesterday said they had useful clues which could help them track down the hooded gunmen who raided Nairobi ‘s Hope FM station on Friday night.

Among the clues were mobile phone numbers of some people who called radio presenters during a programme aired shortly before the attack and the burning of part of the station using petrol.

It is understood that some of the callers issued threats to the presenters, expressing their dislike of the programme.

Also, the police had taken a jacket and a gun left behind by one of the raiders in the brutal attack for DNA and ballistic tests.

The owner of the jacket is said to have dropped it after his hand was burnt. Experts believe that the skin marks were left on the jacket and that provides vital specimen for DNA tests.

Ballistic reports on the pistol, which was recovered with eight rounds of ammunition, were expected today, the sources said. Two jerricans, each with a capacity of 20 litres and believed to have carried the petrol used to set the premises ablaze, are also with the police.

The revelations came as mainstream churches called for thorough investigations into the raid.

Twenty four Muslim organisations also condemned the attack and called for thorough investigations, describing the raid as criminal.

In his condemnation of the raid, Internal Security minister John Michuki described it as the work of criminals.

He said the Government was investigating the incident but would not reveal how far that had gone.

However, sources at the centre of the investigations revealed that they were closing in on the attackers, who shot dead a security guard and injured three other people.

The radio station is located at Nairobi Pentecostal Church , Valley Road. Police appealed to the public and medical institutions to volunteer information on anybody who may have received hand burns after the 10.30pm attack.

Already, police have recorded statements from about 10 people in connection with the attack. They are also scheduled to interview victims of the attack at the hospital once their conditions improved.

The gunmen forced their way into the Nairobi Pentecostal Church on Valley Road, where they attempted to torch Hope FM – a Christian radio station – using petrol, which they carried in jerricans. They then shot two guards and a mechanic.

The station went off air immediately as staff scampered for safety. It resumed broadcasting on Saturday morning.

Yesterday, NPC’s senior pastor David Oginde gave a detailed account of the raid to worshippers and reaffirmed the church’s determination to expand the radio station.

He described the raid as a blessing, saying it had renewed the church’s commitment to reach out to many people through radio broadcasts.

He appealed to the followers to keep peace as investigations were underway to establish the culprits.

On the Friday night when the raiders invaded, Hope FM was broadcasting a live discussion programme, Yesu Ndiye Njia (Jesus is the way).

The provost also urged Christians to be patient and wait for the outcome of the investigations into the matter.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi , the National Muslim Leaders Forum cautioned against blaming any religious group for the attack.

“Criminals are criminals whether they are Muslims or Christians and should be treated as such,” said Mr Said Athman, the secretary general of the National Union of Kenya Muslims said.

“If somebody tries to suggest that there is a form of intolerance between Christians and Muslims, this is unfortunate and he would be venturing into very sensitive grounds,” he said at Jamia Mosque.

The chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi said the lives of Kenyans were precious and shedding of innocent blood was unacceptable.

He said: “Islam prohibits an attack on a place of worship under any circumstances including during war.”

Such an act on a media house, he said, threatened Press freedom.

Sheikh Abdi also called on the Government to beef up security for media houses to avert similar incidents.

The attack was also condemned by the vice-chairman of the Kenya Council of Imams, Sheikh Abdul Latif, who said such acts were forbidden by religion.

The leader of the Official Opposition, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, said the raid was in bad taste. Speaking at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Nakuru Town , Mr Kenyatta talked of an emerging trend in the country where “shocking and strange things” happened.

“Kenyans must learn to tolerate each other’s views and all freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

On Saturday, Information and Communications minister Mutahi Kagwe said initial investigations had ruled out that the attack was a normal one.

“It will be difficult to believe that normal thugs walk with jerricans full of petrol and end up burning the very items they would be expected to steal,” the minister said.

His comments appeared to contradict Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, who had earlier said it was an act of “ordinary thuggery”. Police commissioner Hussein Ali also appealed for information from the public to help track down the perpetrators.