9 July 2012

Kenya: Churches Security Tightened After Attacks

SECURITY has been beefed up in most churches following last week's twin bombing on two worship centres in Garissa. A spot check on churches in Nairobi yesterday revealed that all worshippers were being screened, with some centres hiring services of uniformed security personnel. Most churches visited were filled to capacity; an indication that people have not been deterred to congregate by the recent spate of attacks.

The attack on Garissa's AIC and Catholic churches, the worst in the recent past, left 17 people dead, and scores of others injured. The government, Christian and Muslim leaders have openly condemned the attacks being targeted at worship centres, and sought to assure the public that they are not religious war. There was tight security at the Ministry of Repentance and Holiness church, at City Hall with a contingent of six Administration Police officers and tens of security personnel appointed by the church administration manning different points.

Assistant pastor at the church, Christopher Koskey challenged the public to support government initiatives by taking precautions and volunteering to second themselves as security personnel. "We came together in February 2011, and formed a security committee to address the nation's deficit," Koskey said, adding that the church has 102 security personnel, stationed at various points, in and out of the church. "The government is doing its best, but with limited resources, it's upon churches now to introduce enhanced community policing and tighten their security," he said, adding that it is common knowledge that Kenya is at threat from terrorists.

Worshippers are not allowed to get in with any luggage, save for their Bibles, as other stuff is left outside, including women's handbags. At Pumwani's St. Johns Anglican church, next to Majengo slums, the situation was similar, as faithful were screened at the entrance prior to getting in. Youths were stationed at various points outside to observe any suspect guests.

While hailing the latest measures being undertaken, David Osanya, a regular worshipper at the church welcomed the developments, saying they will help prevent further attacks. "Our youths have been doing a good job of stopping any strange-looking people from accessing the compound, this has enabled us to concentrate on what brings us here," Osanya said.

It was business as usual at the Holy Family Basilica, which has installed CCTV cameras, in addition to the increased number of hired gourds. The war on terrorists by the Kenya Defense Forces in Somalia has been associated with the attacks as retaliation from the Al shabaab sympathizers.

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