NAIROBI. – Christians in Kenya turned to armed
guards to protect their churches during Easter Sunday
services yesterday, following the massacre of 150
people at Garissa University College carried out by Al-
Shabaab last week.
Stories have emerged of how the militants singled out
Christians for pointblank executions during the attack,
and priests in the country, who have been targeted by
Islamists in the past, have said they feared Christian
churches could become the targets of fresh attacks.
Six armed soldiers shielded the main Christian church
in Garissa and around 100 worshippers in preparation
for Sunday mass. In 2012, a dozen people were killed
in simultaneous gun and grenade raids on two
churches in the city.
Kenya has begun three days of mourning for the
victims of Thursday’s brutal terror attack, which saw
four masked gunmen from Al-Shabaab embark on a
shooting rampage at the university in Garissa, hunting
down students to kill and take hostage in a day-long
siege that left 148 dead.
It is the worst attack to have been carried out in the
country in more than 15 years.
Al-Shabab has already claimed the attack was the
first of many to come, promising a violent campaign
that will make Kenya’s cities “run red with blood”.
The militant terrorist group issued a chilling statement
mocking the security measures: “No amount of
precaution or safety measures will be able to
guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or
prevent another bloodbath from occurring in your
cities,” the militant group said in a statement.
But Easter ceremonies in the city of Garissa yesterday
saw grieving Christians praying, singing and clapping
in remembrance of those who died, while security
forces patrolled churches’ perimeters.
At the Our Lady of Consolation Church the ceremony
was laden with emotion for the several hundred
members of Garissa’s Christian minority, despite fears
of further attacks.
“We just keep on praying that God can help us, to
comfort us in this difficult time,” Dominick Odhiambo,
a worshipper at the congregation told the Associated
Press. He said he is planning on abandoning his job
as a plumber in Garissa and leaving for his hometown
because he is afraid.
“Thank you for coming, so many of you,” Bishop
Joseph Alessandro said to the congregation. He said
some of those who died in Thursday’s attack would
have been at the service, and he read condolence
messages from around the world.
Alessandro saw a parallel between the ordeal of Jesus
Christ, which Easter commemorates, and that of
The number of attacks on schools and colleges – like
the massacre at Garissa this week – has increased so
dramatically in the past 10 years that it has become a
global terrorist cliché. “We join the sufferings of the
relatives and the victims with the sufferings of Jesus,”
he said. “The victims will rise again with Christ.”
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to
“respond in the severest ways possible” to the Garissa
attack during a nationally televised address,
promising that “we will fight terrorism to the end”.
“I guarantee that my administration shall respond in
the fiercest way possible,” he said. Five people have
been arrested in suspicion of involvement in the
Garissa attack, a Kenyan official said, and President
Kenyatta promised the “security forces are pursuing
the remaining accomplices. We will bring all of them to
justice . . . We are also in active pursuit of the
mastermind [of the Garissa attack] and have placed a
reward for his capture.” – IOL-Agencies.