Kenya's Churches Urge Arrests in Attacks: Suspicious Killings Thought Orchestrated by Government

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ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONAL

Nairobi

Kenya's churches have told the country's government to arrest the "masterminds" behind an outbreak of violence in the coastal town of Mombasa and the surrounding area following an August attack on the town's Likoni Catholic Church during which two people were killed.

More than 2,000 people had taken shelter in the Likoni church compound on August 13 after a wave of violence broke out directed against "up-country" settlers from outside the region. That day's violence cost the lives of nine police officers and at least 40 citizens who were either shot or slashed to death with machetes. The attackers have distributed pamphlets claiming they were fighting for self rule for the coastal region including Mombasa, and that "upcountry people" should leave.

There is widespread speculation, however, that the killings and violence have been orchestrated by people in senior government circles in Nairobi and Mombasa to divert attention from a continuing debate about constitutional reform and to strengthen the position of the KANU ruling party in the region. Many of the new settlers in Mombasa support the opposition.

The Bishop of Mombasa, Julius Kalu, told ENI that the attackers who started the killings on August 13 "were a very organized group. It was not done by little people in the villages."

Stating that the government had both the duty and the capacity to stamp out the deadly violence in the tourist resort, the Roman Catholic coadjutor bishop of Nairobi, Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki said: "I cannot believe that Kenya's respected intelligence services were not aware of what was going to happen and its aftermath. …