NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has called on the government to urgently beef up security in all places of worship.
This follows a series of attacks on churches with the recent one being the Sunday gun and grenade attacks on an African Inland Church (AIC) and Catholic Church in Garissa town.
“It is extremely worrying that these attacks on churches are increasing and assurances of security by law enforcement agents appear more of rhetoric than pre-emptive security,” Secretary General Cannon Peter Karanja said.
He said the police needed to adopt new strategies of dealing with the terrorism threat in the country especially after the government sent the Kenya Defense Forces to fight the Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia last October.
“The police should increase their vigilance and intelligence gathering. The criminals and terrorist elements must not be allowed to be more agile and dynamic than our security personnel. Kenyans want to see greater innovation within the security service in order to make them safer,” Cannon Karanja said.
“Our prayers are with those who were injured that God will grant them quick and full recovery. We share the pain arising out of this senseless and cowardly act,” he added.
The simultaneous attacks in the two churches were conducted by goons wearing balaclavas, killing 17 people and wounding dozens others.
Police are yet to report any arrests made.
“The NCCK condemns in the strongest manner possible the fatal attacks. We are deeply saddened that innocent Kenyans who were worshipping God were mercilessly murdered by criminals who hid their faces because they could not face up to their dastardly acts,” the Church further said.
The NCCK also wants the government to remove tax on acquisition of security equipment by churches and extend a subsidy where possible.
They have also called on the President and Prime Minister to immediately appoint a substantive Minister and Permanent Secretary for the internal security docket.
Meanwhile seven victims of the attacks who were airlifted to the Kenyatta National Hospital were on Monday said to be recuperating well.
The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Lesiyampe said two of the patients suffered serious head injuries and were to undergo operation.
Another duo suffered multiple fractures in the femur and lower limb, two others escaped with multiple body injuries in the chest, torso and fracture of the femur while one had abdominal injuries.
“Our doctors and other specialists are doing everything possible to restore the health of these patients and we are very confident that several of them will pull out of this. We have the capacity in terms of specialists, infrastructure and the critical hours particularly the first 48 hours, we have the consumables that are necessary to restore the health of our casualties,” Lesiyampe stated.
Kenya has suffered a spate of gun, grenade and bomb attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia last October to target Shabaab rebels fighting to overthrow the weak UN-backed government in the Horn of Africa state.
“Given the fact that for the past one year we have seen quite a number of these emergencies, we have put in some contingency plans that incase of such incidences we are ready and up to task,” he added.
The Shabaab still control large parts of southern Somalia, despite African Union troops, government forces and Ethiopian soldiers wresting control of several key bases from the insurgents.
Since the 1991 ouster of then president Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia has been governed by ruthless warlords, rival militia groups, pirate gangs and Islamist fighters, each controlling their own limited fiefdoms.
Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled to Kenya as well as other neighbouring nations since the collapse of the formal government.