Saturday 20 January 2018

15 people killed as masked men open fire on two Kenyan churches

Paramedics from Kenya Red Cross attend to a woman wounded during an attack on churches in Kenya's northern town of Garissa, at Wilson airport in Nairobi. Photo: Reuters
Paramedics from Kenya Red Cross attend to a woman wounded during an attack on churches in Kenya's northern town of Garissa, at Wilson airport in Nairobi. Photo: Reuters

Daniel Howden in Nairobi

Kenyan officials appealed for calm last night after 15 people were killed and scores injured in attacks on two churches near the border with Somalia.

Sunday worshippers came under fire from guns and grenades in the north-eastern city of Garissa in attacks that resembled those used by the Nigerian Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the killings, but Somali fighters from the al-Shabaab group have been blamed for a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October.

Garissa, in Kenya's remote Northeastern Province, has been used as a base for operations against Somali Islamists.

A provincial administrator, James Ole Sereni, said: "The people who did this want to start a war between Christians and Muslims. This is the work of terrorists who want to divide Kenya's Christians and Muslims."

Most of the deaths came at the African Inland Church, a small wooden building in the town about 140 miles from the border.

The mid-morning service was under way when masked men shot dead the police guards outside.

Weapons

The attackers then took the officers' weapons, went inside and opened fire on the congregation while other militants waited outside to target people trying to escape, police said.

At least one grenade was thrown.

David Mwange, a churchgoer, said: "We first had a loud bang from outside. We then heard gunshots, which made us lie down. Within no time we had gunshots all over. Everybody was shouting and wailing in pain."

Fifteen people were killed and 40 more injured, according to initial police estimates.

In a simultaneous assault, grenades were thrown into the congregation at Garissa's Catholic Church, injuring at least three people. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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