One child died and nine sustained serious injuries when an explosion ripped through a church in Eastleigh yesterday. Tragic Ian Morio, 9, had just celebrated his ninth birthday on Saturday and had gone to the church with his family.
“He turned nine on Saturday. In fact we had invited some few of his friends to the house after church to join us in celebrations and as well as finish eating the cake we had left,” Jane Sievinya, the mother, said before breaking down in tears when we meet her at Radiant Hospital where Morio was rushed and later pronounced dead.
The explosion in St Polycarp ACK church, off Juja Road, happened at about 10.30am. The children were on a Sunday school service, in a building near the main church.
The injured children were rushed to Radiant and Guru Nanak hospital. Six in critical condition were transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital. “We the older persons were praying in the main church when we heard a loud explosion followed with screams from the children who were at the bombed building,” Livingstone Maina, a church elder told reporters. Starehe OCPD Samuel Anampiu said they suspected it was a grenade attack.
“We suspect it was a grenade attack either thrown or it had been planted at the church earlier. However we are still combing the area and tying up information so as we can get to know exactly the type of explosive used and the intention as well those behind it,” he said.
“The bomb was thrown from the estate, as there was tight security in the church compound,” a mother to one of the minors who was injured in the incident, Anne Wanjiru said.
“We heard a loud explosion and all of a sudden the whole place was covered in smoke,” Wanjiru who was also praying at the church’s main hall said at the Guru Nanak Hospital. Three minors who had been rushed to Guru Nanak had minor injuries and were treated for shock and later discharged.
Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru and former MP Maina Kamanda condemned the attack when they visited the area calling on the residents to be calm as police carryout investigations on the explosion. “It is wrong to kill people in churches places of worship can never be places of war. We call on the police to move with speed and bring all the perpetrators of these attacks to book and we also call on them to be more vigilant in their policing to deter such attacks,” she said.
The mid morning incident comes in the wake of a terrorist attack alert issued last week by the police, following the invasion into Kismayu by the Kenya Defense Force. Kenya has experienced a spate of insecurity since KDF staged military operations last year, on the al shabaab insurgents believed to be behind the attacks.
Last Friday, KDF entered al shabaab’s strongest backyard, an indication that the terrorists were being overpowered and were retreating, even as they continue to stage retaliatory attacks in Kenya.
The attacks have been mostly on churches with over twenty worshippers believed to have been killed by the attacks across the country this year alone. In one of the deadliest attacks this year, 17 worshipers were killed in a twin attack in catholic and AIC churches in Garissa.