Kenya: two killed in church attack

 Two people were killed and at least seven others injured when a gang attacked worshippers at a church in Kisii Diocese in western Kenya. The dead were part of a hundred man raid on Bogiakumu Catholic Church of Nyabururu Parish, yesterday September 15). Speaking to the Catholic Information Service Africa (CISA) on Monday morning, the Father-in-Charge of Nyabururu, Fr Lawrence Nyaanga, said: "Two people were killed, and four are still in hospital. Three others have been treated and discharged." Kenyan Police Spokesman Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Peter Kimanthi told CISA that the force "had launched investigations, and that anyone found responsible would be prosecuted." The priest said he saw a political angle to the violence, as Kenyans expect general elections later this year. He said he could associate the raid with a fundraising ceremony at the same church early this month. On September 1, "one of the parishioners there, who is also a local councillor affiliated to the Ford-People political party, presided over a function to raise funds for an HIV/AIDS cause." According to Fr Nyaanga, Sunday's incident could have been an action orchestrated by a rival party. "The attackers were led by a Mr Onuong'a Nyatangi, a staunch supporter of KANU (the ruling party, Kenya African National Union)." Mr Nyatangi was himself killed as he tried to block the besieged worshippers from escaping through the main entrance. The late Nyatangi had expressed his interest in a civic post under his party's sponsorship, Fr Nyaanga said. He said that at least 250 worshippers at Bogiakumu were in the middle of the Service of the Word conducted by Catechist Thomas Momanyi when the raiders struck, chanting: "We're going to burn Ford People. We're going to burn Ford People." Fr Nyaanga said that windows were broken, and pews damaged. An amplifier and other equipment was destroyed. The raiders attempted to burn the church. The faithful used furniture to fight off the attackers, some of whom were amongst them at the service. "I have been cautioning people," he said, "to avoid any violent trend of politics, as that would lead to loss of life." He added that the Church in Kisii had not expressed support for any political party or individual candidate. The Diocese had been conducting civic education among the faithful, he said. Mr Kimanthi said that the country's security machinery was ready to work closely with people at the grassroots, including Church leaders, who would have information on those planning deeds of violence. "We need understanding," he said. "The Church should read the signs of the times and realise that we are entering into a campaign period. Tempers are high and we need God, sanity and an effort to steer the country towards peace." The same Sunday afternoon, Fr Nyaanga and the Kisii Vicar General, Fr Pancras Chuma, declared the Bogiakumu Church officially closed. Their Bishop, Rt Rev Joseph Okemwa, was said to be away attending a meeting in Rome.

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