On Sunday morning, Nov. 4, suspected Muslim extremists hurled a grenade onto the roof of the Utawala Interdenominational Church, killing a police chaplain and injuring at least 11 others. The church, which is located inside a police compound in Garissa, serves police officers stationed at the compound as well as their families.
Witnesses said the grenade was thrown from outside the compound at about 10 a.m. and landed on the church’s sheet-iron roof. Administration Police Chaplain Julius Mukonzi, who was killed in the attack, was delivering a sermon from the pulpit when the grenade detonated over his head. Witnesses reported hearing gunfire shortly after the attack.
At least 11 of the estimated 40 worshipers inside the church were injured in the attack. The wounded were treated at the Garissa Provincial General Hospital, and three were later airlifted to Nairobi for specialized treatment. Most of the wounded were police officers.
Other churches ended their services early as news of the attack spread throughout the area. Local church leaders have called for an inquiry into the recent increase in anti-Christian violence.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities believe it was carried out by the Muslim extremist group al-Shabab. Police initiated a massive security operation as a result of the incident.
Al-Shabab has staged several similar attacks in the past year, including a grenade attack on a Nairobi church in September that killed a 9-year-old boy and an attack in Garissa on July 1 that killed 18 people.
Sources: BBC, Reuters, VOM contacts