Gunmen kill 17 in twin attacks on Kenyan churches

Masked gunmen killed 17 people and wounded dozens in gun and grenade attacks on two churches Sunday in the Kenyan town of Garissa near the border with Somalia, officials said.

As Kenya vowed not to be deterred, Washington extended its support to the east African powerhouse and the Vatican expressed concern that attacks on Christian worshippers were spreading.

Wearing balaclavas, the attackers killed two armed police -- posted outside churches following previous attacks -- before bursting inside to target worshippers as they held prayer services.

Witnesses said bodies lay scattered on the floor inside the blood spattered buildings -- a Roman Catholic church and an Africa Inland Church.

"It is a terrible scene, you can see bodies lying in the churches," said regional police chief Leo Nyongesa.

At least 40 people were rushed to hospital, several in a critical condition, the Kenyan Red Cross said.

The Red Cross, which put the death toll at 17, flew the three most critically injured victims by air ambulance to the capital Nairobi.

Three children were reported to be among the dead.

"It is a horrible sight to see," said Hussein Abdi, a resident of Garissa, a garrison town populated mainly by Muslim ethnic Somalis and located some 140 kilometres (85 miles) from the border.

Condemning the attacks as a "horrible and very worrying act", the Vatican deplored that "among terrorist groups, attacks on Christians gathered on Sunday in their place of worship has become a method, believed to be particularly efficient, of spreading hatred and fear," spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

Nigeria has suffered a string of almost weekly attacks on church services in recent months in which dozens of faithful have been killed.

"The perpetrators of these attacks have shown no respect for human life and dignity, and must be brought to justice for these heinous acts," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Canada also condemned the "vicious and cowardly" church attacks.

Kenya has suffered a spate of gun, grenade and bomb attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia last October to target Shebab rebels fighting to overthrow the weak UN-backed government in the Horn of Africa state.

Later, the pro-Shebab Twitter site Al-Kataib boasted of a "successful operation in Garissa" but did not specifically claim responsibility. Nairobi has blamed previous assaults on the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab.

Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Sunday that the nation "will not be intimidated by such cowardly acts" and urged Kenyans to "exercise religious tolerance."

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims condemned the attacks, saying that "all places of worship must be respected."

"We want to send our condolences, and we are sad that no arrests have been made yet," said chairman Abdulghafur El-Busaidy.

Police said up to seven men had carried out the attacks which came two days after a gunman killed a Kenyan driver and abducted four foreign aid workers from the Dadaab refugee camp, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the northeast.

Last week a grenade blast in a bar in Kenya's main port of Mombasa killed three people, a day after the US embassy warned of the threat of attack.

Search efforts continued for the abducted aid workers, two men and two women who work with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and who come from Canada, Norway, Pakistan and the Philippines, according to police.

Attacks and cross-border raids in the region blamed on the Shebab, including the kidnapping in October of two Spaniards working for Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), were key to Kenya's decision to invade Somalia.

The Shebab still control large parts of southern Somalia, despite African Union troops, government forces and Ethiopian soldiers wresting control of several key bases from the insurgents.

Since the 1991 ouster of then president Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia has been governed by ruthless warlords, rival militia groups, pirate gangs and Islamist fighters, each controlling their own limited fiefdoms.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled to Kenya as well as other neighbouring nations since the collapse of a formal government two decades ago, while crippling drought and famine racked the lawless nation last year.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • PSEi breaches 8,000 level, but profit-taking pared most gains

    [caption id="attachment_257092" align="alignleft" width="150"] PSEi breaches 8,000 mark (PSE photo)[/caption] Local share prices surged on a slew of positive news from abroad, sending the Philippine Stock Exchange index past the 8,000 mark for the first time in history. BDO Unibank chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas said the market rose due to “positive foreign equity portfolio flows and Fed Chair Yellen’s comments last week reiterating thethat the FOMC will be data dependent and …

  • Abandoned, hard-up husband hits P60-M Lotto pot

    Lady luck finally smiled on a hard-up tricycle driver, who endured being abandoned by his wife and seeing his children drop out of school before hitting the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) 6/45 Lotto jackpot worth nearly P60 million. PCSO acting chairman Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II said the 29-year old lucky bettor hit the jackpot in the March 20 draw by correctly picking the winning numbers 02-03-14-22-29-30, which corresponds to the birth anniversary dates of his family members. …

  • News In Brief

    P/$ RATE CLOSES AT P44.80/$1The peso exchange rate closed  lower  at P44.80  to the US dollar yesterday at the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. (PDEx) from P44.76  last  Friday.  The weighted average rate  unchanged  to  P44.796  from  P44.796.  Total volume amounted to $340.6 million.PUMP PRICES RAISED THIS WEEKThe pump prices of gasoline products will be raised by P1.10 per liter this week and diesel by P0.60 per liter, according to the oil companies. In an advisory to the media, the oil …

  • Need for modern national sports complex underscored

    Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara yesterday pushed for the construction of a “state-of-the-art” and “highly scientific sports complex” that can be used by the country’s national athletes for high-level training and total wellness program. Angara, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, said the government should at least provide decent support to its athletes by providing them with ultramodern sports venues and facilities if it wants them to improve the country’s …

  • Makati mayor slams PNP’s role in mayoralty row

    Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay denounced what he called apparent “misuse” of the Philippine National Police (PNP) force in the implementation of “selective suspension” of government officials not allied with the ruling party. Binay said he sympathizes with PNP personnel who often got caught in the middle of political conflicts, and called for an end to dirty political tactics. [caption id="attachment_257243" align="aligncenter" width="648"] THANKSGIVING MEAL – Vice President Jejomar C. …

  • EVAP warns of unscrupulous foreign electric vehicle suppliers

    The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines  (EVAP) has cautioned local manufacturers and end users against unscrupulous foreign EV suppliers that are flocking into the domestic market. In a sunrise industry like the electric vehicle industry, EVAP stressed that choosing the right partner or supplier is a difficult task. “In the absence of any track record to review, an end user is at a loss as to how to choose a reliable and competent supplier,” said Atty. Bodie Pulido, EVAP …

  • Mayors laud bill increasing tax revenue allocation for LGUs

    The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) is backing the proposed increase in the annual automatic allocations for local government units (LGUs) to boost inclusive growth with improved infrastructure, modernized agriculture and easier access to resources. Mayor Jess Burahan, secretary-general of the LMP said the empowerment of LGUs through added resources is a game changer in boosting inclusive growth. …

  • Freeze order against Jinggoy assets final; Bong guards face raps

    The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has turned down with finality the plea of Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada to lift the freeze order on his properties amounting to more than P183 million. In a resolution released yesterday, the Fifth Division denied Estrada’s motion for reconsideration that sought that the court lift its writ of preliminary attachment/garnishment that was issued on February 17 that ordered the freeze of his properties. “As movant has not filed a counterbond and his arguments …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options