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17 dead, 50 injured in twin Garissa church attacks

Mr Dennis Nzioki who was among the victims attacked in a church waits to be examined at the Garissa Provincial General Hospital on July 1, 2012. Photo/ISSA HUSSEIN

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Two police officers are among 17 people killed in two simultaneous attacks in Garissa when masked gunmen sprayed bullets and hurled grenades at Catholic's Central Cathedral and AIC churches, Kenya Red Cross say.

However, Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said 14 people were killed during the attacks.

"12 worshipers including nine women were killed. Two police officers on patrol around the AIC church were also killed in the attack," he said.

According to North Eastern Deputy PPO, Philip Ndolo, the gunmen attacked and killed two police officers on duty and took their firearms before raiding the churches.

He said AIC church suffered more casualties as it accounts for most deaths and at least 50 injured persons resulting from gunshot wounds.

Catholic's Central Cathedral had three casualties from a grenade attack.

The dead include two police officers, four men, nine women and two children.

An eye witness who was attending a service at AIC church, Mr Dennis Nzioki said they heard noises from the rooftop of falling objects.

"We heard something like stones being thrown on top of the roof, then, we realised that we were being shot at," he said.

Paul Mwalali, 52, who was at the AIC church recounted similar event.

“I had a front row seat in the church. I heard something fall on the roof. Then there was a huge explosion. I dived on the ground and went under the seat. Then there was shooting and people were screaming all over. When the shooting stopped, I felt a sharp pain on my leg.”

Another eye witness Felix Kimanzi said the masked gunmen wearing blue uniforms sprayed bullets at the congregation of the AIC church resulting in the deaths and the high number of casualties.

He also said two grenades were hurled but only one exploded.

"I was 100 metres away from the church when I saw two gunmen at the entrance spray bullets at the congregation. I hid from their sight," he said.

"They were joined by two more gunmen in blue uniforms who hurled grenades and they all fled on foot," he added.

The casualties have been admitted at Garissa Provincial General Hospital.

Leaders condemn attacks

Following the attacks, PM Raila Odinga has cancelled a meeting scheduled for Monday with PSs and will instead lead a government security team for a visit Garissa.

Following the attacks, PM Raila Odinga has cancelled a meeting scheduled for Monday with PSs and will instead lead a government security team for a visit Garissa.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka condemned Sunday's church attacks noting that they were religious places for worship.

“Places of worship including churches, temples and mosques among others should be respected, it is unfortunate that two police officers assigned at the church were shot and killed,” said VP Musyoka.

Development of Northern Kenya Minister Mohamed Elmi said the attackers intend to create a religious rift between Christians and Muslims.

“Kenya is an indivisible country and we will not be divided by those who want to create fear within us,” said Elmi, who is also the MP for Wajir East.

Supreme Council of Kenya (Supkem) national chairman Prof Abdulghafur El-Busaidy condemned the attacks saying that places of worship should be respected by all.

“We detest such acts and as Supkem we are condemning the act from the bottom of our hearts,” Prof El-Busaidy said.
Source: Daily Nation


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