(eTN) – The bloodiest strike yet on Kenya this morning was perpetrated in the Northern Kenyan town of Garissa, where almost simultaneously two Christian churches were attacked by what is generally thought to be Islamist terrorists from the Al Shabab group, now fighting for survival in Somalia as allied forces are advancing on their last strongholds of Kismayu.
Reports from Kenyan contacts in Mombasa and Nairobi speak of at least 17 worshippers dead and scores of others seriously injured in the blasts and shootings, among them children.
The attack on Christian Sunday services was immediately seen as a declaration of war not just on Kenya as a nation, but on Christianity, too, adding a new dimension to the often cruel terror acts of Al Shabab, which has seen women being stoned to death for being raped, youths beheaded for refusing to be pressed into the service of terror, and whatever businesses remain in areas under their shrinking control extorted for money to buy and pay for supplies.
A fleet of aircraft including medivac and intensive-care equipped aircraft have been dispatched from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport when the extent of the terror strike became fully known and are expected to be landing at the Garissa airfield before 4:00 pm local time, then expected back in the capital before last light with the worst cases to receive the best possible medical care.
Regular sources in Kenya attributed the attack on the two churches to the ongoing high level of security in Nairobi, Mombasa, and other key Kenyan towns, leaving the terrorists to seek out opportunistic targets like church services, which are not as tightly guarded until now, though two policemen deployed at the scenes were reportedly also killed by the attackers.
“In the big cities, they can only hope to throw a grenade or something like that, because security is now very, very tight, especially for hotels, restaurants, public places even. So they have now looked for other locations nearer to the Somali border that they can sneak across at night and then hit and run back. It is sad that they claim to be Muslims, because they are the devil’s breed for sure. No God-fearing Muslim will condone such acts or commit such acts on other religions’ services, and Christians are, as far as we are concerned, as far as the Holy Quran is concerned, people of the book. There is no justification at all in what these murderers did,” said a regular source from Mombasa to me on the phone just now, who happens to be a practicing Muslim, though in our personal and professional relationship, that is of no consequence or importance at all, as we both see the value of the individual not in any way influenced by religion, ethnicity, or cultural background.
Other sources expressed shock, as apparently the news was slow in spreading across Kenya on a Sunday, but from other sources close to the state machinery it was learned that new added measures will now be put into place to also protect places of worship in the same way as other public gatherings are subject to security checks. Already high security in Nairobi and Mombasa was reportedly also stepped up further with yet more intense checks on cars and individuals, while some hotels have also added an extra layer of security screening before vehicles can enter into the resort or hotel compounds or individuals are admitted into the premises.
Sincere and heartfelt condolences are expressed to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in this morning’s twin terror strikes.