Attacks on Kenyan churches kill 17

At least 45 people were wounded in the simultaneous attacks on Garissa

Written by Reuters | Nairobi | Published: July 2, 2012 3:41 am

Masked attackers killed at least 17 people on Sunday in gun and grenade attacks on churches in a Kenyan town used as a base for operations against al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in Somalia.

At least 45 people were wounded in the simultaneous attacks on Garissa,in the north of the East African country which has suffered a series of blasts since sending troops into Somalia last October to crush Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants.

“We have 17 bodies at the mortuary so far,” regional medical officer Abdikadir Sheikh told Reuters. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Police said they suspected the attacks could have been the work of al-Shabaab sympathisers or bandits,but it was too early to say. Inside Somalia,al-Shabaab declined comment. “The goons were clad in balaclavas,” regional deputy police chief Philip Ndolo told Reuters from Garissa.

He said a total of seven attackers hurled grenades inside the Catholic Church and the African Inland Church and then opened fire with guns. They struck the churches,which are 3 km apart,at around 10.15 am. Two policemen were among the dead.

They were the latest attacks on Christian worshippers in Kenya after two people were killed in grenade blasts in March and April.

But Sunday’s coordinated attacks on churches resembled the tactics of Nigeria’s Islamist militant group Boko Haram,which has killed hundreds of people on the other side of the continent.

Other blasts in Kenya have hit nightclubs and bus stations in the capital Nairobi,the coastal city of Mombasa and areas near the Somalia border.

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