At least 17 Christians were killed in simultaneous attacks on two churches near the Somali border on Sunday, July 1. A group of masked assailants launched grenades and opened fire with assault rifles on a Roman Catholic church and an African Inland Church located about two miles apart in Garissa, Kenya. In addition to the 17 killed, more than 40 people were wounded in the attacks.
The deadliest attack was on the African Inland Church, where two policemen guarding the church were shot and killed. The attackers then threw two grenades into the building, causing serious injuries to worshipers.
Broadcast news footage showed the after-effects of the attacks—benches knocked over, blood pooled on the floor and splattered on the walls, clothing lying on the floor and Bibles strewn throughout the buildings.
“This is the worst single attack since October, when our troops went into Somalia,” national police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told Reuters. “It is the worst in terms of the numbers killed, the manner of execution, the anger behind it and the anguish it has aroused, as well as the national impact it has had.”
The northern Kenyan town of Garissa has been used as a base for operations against insurgents in Somalia since October. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the church attacks, Reuters reports that police blame sympathizers of Somalia-based al-Shabab.
“You can imagine for such a small town how the police and medical services have been stretched trying to deal with this,” regional deputy police chief Philip Ndolo told Reuters.
Sources: Reuters, BBC News