One Child Dead, Others Injured in Church Blast in Kenya

Sympathizers of Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels suspected.


NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A 9-year-old boy was killed and several others were seriously injured after a suspected grenade attack on a church here this morning, sources said.

A source who visited the site told Morning Star News by phone that the children were attending a Sunday school class at 10:30 a.m. when a hand grenade thrown into the Anglican church building in the Pagani area, next to Nairobi’s largely Somali-immigrant area of Eastleigh, exploded.

Police said they suspected the attack on the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) St. Polycarp church was carried out by sympathizers of the Islamic extremist Al Shabaab, a Somali rebel group vying for power in Somalia that Kenyan troops just displaced from the strategic city of Kismayo, Somalia.

“There was an attack at St. Polycarp’s church on Juja Road,” said deputy police spokesman Charles Owino. “Some people threw a hand grenade at a Sunday school service. Seven children were injured.”

The name of the slain boy was not immediately available. A church official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that nine children have been hospitalized as a result of the blast.

The latest attack by suspected sympathizers of the Al Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, may have involved two explosions, according to one nearby resident.

“I just heard two loud explosions, and then everything went quiet before screams erupted,” said Faid Kassim.

A police official told AFP that police were also investigating whether a bomb had been placed in the church building. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

Churches in Kenya have become increasingly targeted by Islamic extremist terrorists, mainly in Nairobi and border towns near Somalia.

“Two years ago, Furthering Gospel Fellowship near a garage in Eastleigh that was used by Ethiopians, Eritreans and even Somali Christians was demolished by Muslims using a bulldozer,” said the leader of an underground church in Eastleigh who requested anonymity. “The churches in Eastleigh and the underground fellowship feel threatened. We need prayers, because our lives are at risk.”

Kenyan churches and other facilities have been the target of several bombings and shootings since Kenya sent troops into southern Somalia in October 2011 in response to Al Shabaab kidnappings and other attacks in Kenyan territory.

Al Shabaab, which has been designated a terrorist organization by several Western governments, seeks to impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on Somalia. The transitional government in Mogadishu fighting the insurgents, however, also treats Christians harshly, with President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed already embracing a version of sharia that mandates the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

Police in Kenya have urged members of the public to remain vigilant and volunteer any information to authorities. On Friday (Sept. 28), police seized bomb-making materials in Matuu town after stopping a bus from Garissa en route to Nairobi at a roadblock. Officers found explosive materials, metal pipes and detonators.

The previous day, suspected extremists detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) near Garissa, injuring three police officers.

On Sept. 13, police arrested Omar Abdi Aden, 26, after he was found with four suicide vests, 12 grenades, four IEDs, four AK-47assault rifles and 480 bullets. Aden pleaded guilty as a member of Al-Shabaab planning terror attacks in Nairobi, including the blowing up of churches and the assassination of prominent politicians. He was sentenced to 59 years in prison.


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