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Christians Fast over Threat to Radio Station in Kenya

Compass Direct

December 11 2006

Christians at Nairobi Pentecostal Church (NPC) began a three-day fast yesterday after a letter written to their bishop warned of an imminent attack on Christian radio station Hope FM. The threat comes seven months after a raid on the station, located on church property, left one person dead.

NPC Bishop Boniface Adoyo called for the fast in a letter read to church members on Sunday, saying the threatening letter also mentioned other churches targeted for attack over unspecified reasons.

“We are therefore urging you to fast and pray,” Bishop Adoyo said.

On Friday (December 8), the church’s senior pastor, David Oginde, met government officials in Nairobi , who promised him that an investigation would be launched on the authorship of the letter.

“We cannot divulge the contents, since it is under investigation,” Pastor Oginde said after meeting with Nairobi Provincial Commissioner James Waweru.

On May 12, eight unidentified gunmen stormed the station. They shot and killed a guard, injured three others and torched part of the building after a regular broadcast comparing teachings of the Bible with those of the Quran aired.

Although the government was quick to rule out a religious connection to the attack, Christians here were not convinced, pointing to the timing of the attack right after the program. According to station sources, the “Jesus is the Way” program has a large Muslim listening audience. It airs weekly between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and the attack began at 10:20 p.m.

According to a guard who escaped injury in the attack, the eight masked assailants shouted angrily that the Pentecostal station had failed to take telephone calls. Church and government officials condemned the attack while warning Christians and Muslims not to let it spark religious conflict.

According to sources close to the station, the gunmen entered the Nairobi Pentecostal Church from the rear gate and stabbed a security guard. To quiet his groaning, the assailants shot and killed him. They then shot one security guard posted in front of the Hope FM studio in the eye and tied the hands of another before setting him on fire.

The tied guard sustained serious burns, and one of the on-air presenters suffered a shot to his right hand. The gunmen poured gas and torched the station; the resulting fire damaged part of the building.

“The government condemns this attack. It is a criminal act,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua said after visiting the station. “We are asking religious leaders not to say words or preach words that would breed intolerance.”

At press time no one has been arrested for the attack.