Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Kenya: church bombings and al-Shabaab
-- a call to pray for the Church in Kenya
By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 166
Special to ASSIST
(ANS) -- Kenyan-assisted military operations to rout al-Shabaab in Somalia are being blessed with success. Gradually, order and security are being restored to large tracts of Somalia. Facing immense pressure, many al-Shabaab militants are shedding their uniforms, ditching their weapons and fleeing south into eastern Kenya where they disappear into the refugee population, sheltered by sympathetic Islamists who have fled war and famine. Just 80km west of the Somalia border and with as many as 500,000 Somali refugees, Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp has become a major security problem for Kenya. Aid workers have been kidnapped and held hostage in Somalia, mines and grenades have been used to kill Kenyan soldiers, and several refugee leaders have been executed. Many aid organisations no longer let their foreign workers serve in Dadaab because it is simply too dangerous.
Kenya recently experienced its worst terror attack since the 28 November 2002 bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa when18 died. National police spokesman Eric Kiraithe declared that this most recent attack 'is the worst in terms of the numbers killed, the manner of execution, the anger behind it and the anguish it has aroused as well as the national impact it has had'.
On Sunday 1 July seven militants launched simultaneous attacks on two churches in the eastern town of Garissa (about 90km south-west of Dadaab) at 10:15am. The congregations were at prayer when the militants threw grenades and started shooting. Five militants attacked the Africa Inland Church, killing 17 people and wounding some 60, including many women and children. The church's two security guards were amongst the dead. The other two militants attacked the Catholic Church just 3km away, leaving three believers wounded.
As Al Jazeera notes, Garissa serves as a military base for Kenyan troops fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia. Whilst the pro-Shabaab Twitter site Al-Kataib boasted of a 'successful operation in Garissa', al-Shabaab has not actually claimed responsibility. This leads many to believe that Dadaab-based al-Shabaab-sympathisers might be to blame, inspired by Boko Haram's attacks on churches in northern Nigeria.
On Monday 2 July Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told an audience in Garissa that al-Shabaab was acting 'in desperation . . . reacting to the progress made by our forces in Somalia'. He made it clear that Kenya would not be surrendering to terrorists and would continue the fight against al-Shabaab. PM Odinga's assessment is accurate, for al-Shabaab is indeed desperate. Their principal state sponsor, Eritrea, has run out of funds since the fall of Mubarak (Egypt) and Gaddafi (Libya), benefactors keen to help fund belligerence against Ethiopia. The al-Shabaab stronghold of Kismayo, the last major city al-Shabaab controls, is presently surrounded by Kenyan forces that aim to have control of the southern port city by August. As al-Shabaab's remnant transitions from a jihadist force into a terrorist network, war will diminish but terrorism will doubtless escalate and Kenya will be targeted.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
On Sunday morning 1 July, seven militants launched simultaneous attacks on two churches in Garissa in Kenya's east. The congregations were at prayer when militants threw grenades and started shooting. Seventeen people died and some 60 were wounded in the main attack at the Africa Inland Church, while three believers were wounded at the nearby Catholic Church. Garissa serves as a military base for Kenyan troops fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia and is just 90km west of the Dadaab refugee camp, home to some 500,000 desperately needy Somali refugees. Infiltrated by Islamic militants fleeing military operations in Somalia, Dadaab has become a major security problem for Kenya. Please pray for believers in Kenya; also for God's intervention to end al-Shabaab and for the spread of the Gospel amongst Somali and Kenyan Muslims.
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