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Kenyan Christians killed in terror attack on church

Catholic World News - July 02, 2012

At least 17 people were killed, and many others seriously wounded, in an armed assault on a Christian church in Garissa, Kenya, on July 1.

Armed men killed two guards, then threw grenades into the African Inland Church. When worshippers ran outside they were hit with a salvo of automatic gunfire.

Although the perpetrators of the attack were not immediately identified, Kenyan authorities strongly suspect the al-Shabaab terrorist group, which is actively in neighboring Somalia. Al Shabaab has been threatening raids into Kenya since the Nairobi government sent troops to help suppress the terrorist group in its Somalia headquarters. “We do not think it is a religious problem but a reaction to embarrass the government in Nairobi for what the Kenyan army is doing in Somalia,” Bishop Paul Darmanian of Garissa told the Fides news agency. Garissa is close to the border of Somalia, and the local population is mostly Muslim, so that the Christian churches are regarded as “soft targets,” the bishop said.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, issued a statement condemning the attack, expressing solidarity with the victims and their families, and calling upon world leaders “to oppose irresponsible acts that feed hatred among different religions.”

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