Gunmen entered a Sunday morning
worship service in Kenya’s coastal Mombasa County yesterday and sprayed the
congregation with bullets, killing at least seven Christians and leaving
several others in critical condition.
Two heavily-armed men wounded
more than a dozen of the 200-member Joy in Jesus Church in the Likoni area of
Mombasa, where a mosque said to have ties with the Somali Islamic extremist
group Al Shabaab has caused tensions.
Among the dead was assistant
pastor Phillip Musasa, sources told Morning Star News.
“The pastor had a head injury
and succumbed to the injury while being rushed to the hospital,” said a pastor
who visited victims today at Coast General Hospital, also known as Makandara
Hospital. “I saw 10 of the survivors in the hospital, and they are in a
Another pastor, also speaking
anonymously due to security threats in the area, said hospitalized church
members were in great pain. “Most of the victims need blood,” he said.
No one has taken responsibility
for the attack, which reportedly involved a third gunman outside the church
building shooting at Christians fleeing the attack. Church leaders suspected
Islamic extremists had carried it out in reprisal for a raid by armed police on
the Masjid Musa Mosque (now Masjid Shuhada, or “Martyrs Mosque”) on February 2,
in which more than 100 Muslims were arrested and at least two were killed; most
of those detained have been released.
“We as the church feel that
what happened is a retaliation for the attack that took place in Masjid Musa
Mosque recently,” said one church leader. “When the Muslims are attacked, there
is a false generalization that the Christians are the ones doing it. We as the
church became a scapegoat for the recent attack on the mosque.”
Authorities believe the
mosque has been used as a recruitment center for Al Shabaab, an Al
Qaeda-affiliated militia waging war in neighboring Somalia. Two months ago
authorities issued a warning of possible major attacks in the area and arrested
two suspects found with powerful explosives last week. Police reportedly
suspected Al Shabaab militants for the Joy in Jesus Church attack.