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Report: Kenya

Gunmen kill six during church service in Kenya

Kenyan police inspect the scene after the attack by gunmen in a Mombasa church
Kenyan police inspect the scene after the attack by gunmen in a Mombasa church Reuters/Joseph Okanga

At least six people were killed and scores injured when three gunmen burst into a church on Sunday in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa and opened fire on worshippers.

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A security guard who had been guarding the premises died on the spot, as did a woman who was hit in the chest.

Four others died at the Coast General Hospital. Among those injured were four children and twelve women. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A witness told RFI that the Sunday service had already begun when they heard a commotion and gunshots at the back of the church.

A guard who was standing at the main door of the church stumbled into the church and collapsed as the gunmen began shooting at worshippers indiscriminately.

The gunmen escaped on motor bikes immediately after the attack and police in trucks went in search. They later arrested about one hundred people for questioning.

‘Yesterday I had to close my business immediately after lunch to avoid the police swoop,’ says Tom Otieno, who runs a shop in the area where the church is located.

Such large scale police operations are common in the aftermath of such attacks.

Despite being Kenya’s premier beach destination, Mombasa’s tourism has suffered severely in recent months, because of terror threats and frequent skirmishes between the police and radicalised Islamic youth.’

In Mombasa, many Muslim youth have become radicals and are attacking Mosque Imams perceived as being moderate.

Speaking to a local television station, a few days before the Church attack, a radical Islamic leader known as Makaburi openly said that revenge is part of Islamic duty.

According to him and other radicals, Kenya’s military is killing people in Somalia so they have a religious duty to avenge those killings right there in Kenya.

‘This is a very emotive issue and we call on religious leaders to be calm as the police investigate not only this incident but all the killings of Sheikhs and pastors in the past.

But it also indicates that we have not succeeded in the efforts to stop such attacks.’ Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said after the church attack.
 

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