Christmas attacks on Mombasa churches raise questions
27 December 2013, 14:00
Nairobi - Unknown youths threw
petrol bombs at two churches in Mombasa on Christmas day, police said, in the latest bout of violence against Christians on the
country's predominantly Muslim coast.
Police and witnesses
said the churches on the edge of port city were attacked in
the early hours of December 25 after churchgoers held services to usher
no suspects but were exploring the possibility that the attacks may have
been launched by Muslim militants or by supporters of the Mombasa
Republican Council (MRC), an illegal movement that wants the coastal
region to secede from Kenya.
Muslims on the Indian Ocean coastline feel marginalized by Kenya's
predominantly Christian government and the historically cordial
relations between the two communities have suffered strains in recent
Police said Muslim
youths believed to be controlled by radical preachers with links to
Somali militant group al Shabaab might be behind the attacks, which left
one church completely destroyed.
churches are located in an area mainly inhabited by Muslims, and church
members had reported threats before from some youth who told them to
close the churches down," said Robert Mureithi, the Likoni area police
Al Shabaab in
September raided the Westgate mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people
in the biggest attack on Kenyan soil since al Qaeda bombed the U.S.
embassy in 1998.
A senior Muslim cleric said the arson attack might be part of an attempt by radicals to provoke religious unrest.
want Christians to begin a fight with Muslims so that al Shabaab can
thrive in Kenya, but Im glad Christians are wiser," Sheikh Juma Ngao,
head of the Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council, told Reuters.
Mureithi said police are also examining the possibility that one or both of the attacks were by Mombasa Republican Council MRC members.
found writings scribbled on the gate of one church saying 'Pwani si
Kenya' or 'Coast is not Kenya'. This is a slogan used by the MRC," Moses
Andayi, a member of Christ Outreach Church, which was destroyed, told
"To do this on Christmas Day is an attempt to send a very strong message to us."
Christians at the coast say they suspect radical Muslims killed two preachers in November, while two Muslim clerics were killed this month
in drive-by shootings which their supporters said were extra-judicial
killings by the police. The police deny killing the clerics.