4 Killed in Attack on Kenyan Church

3/23/2014 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Sunday morning, multiple gunmen stormed the packed Joy Jesus church in Likoni, Kenya, located near the large tourist city of Mombasa. Two individuals were proclaimed dead at the scene, and another two were killed as a result of their injuries, Cyrus Ombati, of Standard Digital, reported from Mombasa. Police responded quickly to the attack, but the two gunmen were able to escape, according to the earliest reports from Reuters.

“Both carried big guns and began shooting all over the place. I fell to the ground and could hear screams,” Lilian Omondi, who was leading a prayer at the time of the attack, told Reuters. Likoni police chief Robert Mureithi told reporters that the high number of bullet cartridges recovered for the Joy in Christ Church indicated the gunmen were armed with automatic weapons,” according to Reuters. “This has all the indicators of a terrorist attack because the attackers did not steal anything and appeared focused on killing,” Mureithi continued.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Kenya has faced numerous small-scale attacks on churches and other targets, many of them connected to the Somalia based terrorist group Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab, an Islamic group that is seeking to establish an extreme interpretation of Islamic laaw, has repeatedly attacked Kenya because of the Kenyan military’s role in anti-terrorism efforts in Somalia. The September attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi took 67 lives and alerted the world again about the security risks that Al Shabaab poses. Just one week ago, two-suspected terrorist were arrested with explosives that officials believe were to be used in an attack. Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku speaking in Mombasa said that security had been strengthened to prevent these kinds of attacks. “Our officers are out there, they are doing everything possible to fight crime and terrorism,” Lenku said.

Despite these efforts, it was not enough to prevent the attack on the Joy Jesus church. Four have been killed, and 17 are still in the hospital being treated for their injuries, according to the Kenyan Red Cross Society. This latest attack has again sent shockwaves through the Kenyan Christian community, worried about the relative ease with which this attack seems to have been carried out.

Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “the ruthless attack on a church, as men, women, and children were gathered simply to worship God, reveals the hatefulness and emptiness of the ideology that motivates these terrorist groups. The Kenyan military and security forces must continue their efforts to root out terrorist groups and provide protection to their civilians. We offer our prayers and condolences to the people of Kenya and, specifically, the families of those injured or killed in this attack.”   

For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East: RM-ME@persecution.org

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