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Kenya : Gangsters Shift Attention to Clergymen and Church Grounds

ICC Note

“We are concerned because no one has been arrested and no property has been recovered despite promises from the police that something was being done. The attackers have also warned the victims that they will strike again,”

By John Njagi

4 December 2007 Kenya (allAfrica.com)-The Catholic Church in Nyeri is besieged.

Its lay members and the clergy are living in fear due to an unprecedented wave of attacks by gangsters, which have raised many questions.

The raids in eight parishes within a month, have thrown the church into a spin with questions on why the attackers were targeting an institution better known for propagating peace.

A church elder, Mr Francis Ndege, was concerned that the police had not been able to bring the culprits to book.

“We are concerned because no one has been arrested and no property has been recovered despite promises from the police that something was being done. The attackers have also warned the victims that they will strike again,” said Mr Ndege, who is the chairman of the Mwenji Parish Council.

Replace stolen items

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Mr Henry Migwi, who is the parish treasurer, said the church was cash strapped because the little money collected from the Christians was used to replace stolen items.

He said that the Christians, most of who are from poor, were concerned because ultimately, they are the ones who pay for the damages and finance the replacement of stolen items.

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Identity of suspects

Parish treasurer Cecilia Kiiru urged the police to do something to restore hope among the Christians.

Nyeri head of police Sebastian Kirunya said they were investigating the attacks.

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However, he said, more officers had been deployed in the affected areas and police kept vigil in a patrol car round the clock. He said police had foiled at least two robberies at a local parish and were hoping to soon make a breakthrough.

Last month, gangsters struck at the parish for the second time in a year. On both occasions, they critically injured the watchmen and stole cash and other valuables. They also vandalised property worth thousands of shillings.

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Church leaders’ heads

Mr Nicholas Waigwa and Mr James Maina were clobbered to death when they tried to repulse the raiders.

In what appears to be organised crime, the attackers drop literature indicating they would not relent until they chop off the heads of at least two church leaders.

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“In one instance, they asked for Sh300,000 or my head and I told them that they can have my head because I did not have that kind of money,” he said.

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Ready for harvesting

Last year, unidentified people invaded the land and cut down 5,000 coffee bushes with berries ready for harvesting.

On November 13, 47 Catholic priests held a meeting at the Christ is the King Major Seminary, where they condemned the attacks.

“The deep hatred for the Catholic Church and its anointed priests and followers is evil and terribly luciferic.

“It seems to be something well organised by people conversant with communist murderous and suppressive mechanisation cum tactics,” they said in a statement.

The statement continued: “There is more than meets the eye. What we are seeing is only a tip of the iceberg and perhaps something greater is going to come in the future.”

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