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Worshipers attend churches despite terror alert

15 June 2015, 07:45

Nairobi - The terror alert issued by the Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet on Saturday that the Al-Shabaab could be targeting churches during the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan did not dampen the spirits of Christian faithful Sunday in Garissa town and its environs from attending the Sunday service.

Security was heightened in the town that has borne the brunt of the Al-Shabaab terror attacks where 148 people, mostly university students, were killed in a deadly terror attack on April 2. Security officers manning the churches were increased while police on foot and vehicles patrolled the town's streets.

According to Boinnet, the Al-Qaeda linked terror group will target, among other areas, key government installations, security personnel, journalists, learning institutions, markets and shopping malls.

A spot check by Xinhua at various churches showed that a handful of Christians turned up for the Sunday service unperturbed by the alert, although the turnout has significantly dropped since the April attack.

At Garissa AIC Church which lost 17 of its congregation on July 1, 2012 when the militants struck during a Sunday service, there were only 50 worshipers. The church had over 250 members by then.

Read Also: Watch out for Al Shabaab Ramadhan threat, Boinett tells Kenyans

The entire church compound has been fenced with barbed wire with only one gate, which serves as the entrance and exit. All those who enter the church compound are also subjected to thorough screening with metal detectors.

According to one of the church's elders, Titus Musyoka, more need to be done by the security agencies to assure the worshipers that they are safe during the Sunday's church services.

"Since last year we were slowly picking up and the number of worshippers was on the increase. But since the April 2 Garissa University attack, many worshippers have been scared away,"said Musyoka.

But a number of Christians like Francis Kilonzo who survived the 2012 attack have remained steadfast, and to date, still attend the Sunday services.

"Come rain come sunshine, I will continue going to church. No amount of threats from the militias will stop me," he added.

The Somalia-based militant group has launched series of attacks in coastal and northeastern region since Kenya sent KDF into Somalia in 2011 to fight the Al-Qaida linked group, with the Garissa University College attack being the worst one by far.

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- Xinhua


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