Gunmen shot dead a bishop in a midnight raid at a church in Nairobi’s outskirts on Sunday.
Bishop Joseph Segel of the Redeemed Church, Ongata Rongai was shot twice in the chest as he attempted to block the attackers from entering the church.
His wife Miriam hid at the altar while the gunmen beat up and frisked church faithful for valuables.
Internal Security minister George Saitoti visited the area on Wednesday last week and ordered the local police to beef up security, in response to yet another attack in which two people were hacked to death and 11 others injured a day earlier at Oloo Sirkon Village, seven kilometres away.
The church is located about 300 metres from the Ongata Rongai police station.
The gunmen entered the church compound minutes after Miriam drove in, with the bishop on the passenger seat and three women were riding at the back.
They were returning to the church late after attending a week-long “religious mission” in Matuu.
The three women are church faithful who had accompanied them for the mission.
“It was some minutes to midnight. I took a turn from the tarmac road and was driving towards the church’s gate. I saw a vehicle following from behind and I got nervous. I drove faster,” Miriam said.
She stopped at the gate and asked one of the ladies to alight and open the gate.
“I also told her to close and lock it immediately after I drove in,” added Miriam.
She parked the vehicle and entered the church through the office door while the ladies were unloading shopping bags when a gun appeared.
“I saw a very tall man with a rifle at the door. He was struggling with another man who is also a member of our church,” said Miriam.
The other man is Mr George Kamau, who said had been waiting to pray with the bishop, then spend the night at the church ahead of the morning service.
“It was 10 minutes to midnight. I helped open the gate and mama (Miriam) told me to monitor the other vehicle. It took a turn and drove past. But three men carrying firearms started to alight before the vehicle stopped and I dashed back,” he said.
He rushed back and alerted the ladies as they unloaded bags from the vehicle.
“I told them to rush and hide in the office. I followed them but as I entered the one with a rifle was right behind me. He kicked the door as I closed from inside. I fell on the floor and the bishop rushed to help. He shot him then ordered us to lie on the floor, then shot him again,” added Mr Kamau.
Two men had entered the church, the other had a pistol and another kept watch outside.
“They demanded for the car keys and money. They also took a handbag and mobile phones and sped off,” Mr Kamau said.
A woman who had been left in the bishop’s car was taken hostage as the gunmen sped off.
The car, a Toyota Prado, was last morning found abandoned at the Kibera matatu termini and towed to Kilimani police station.
The woman was abandoned at Kenyatta market near the city’s Ngumo estate.
Miriam talked to her and she narrated her ordeal. “In the car one of the gunmen broke down in tears and kept on saying. Mungu tusamehe Mungu tusamehe (Forgive us God). But another was rebuking him telling him there was no time for regrets,” the bishop’s wife told the Nation.
Elite detectives from Nairobi-based Flying squad and Special Crime Prevention Unit were dispatched to lead investigations into the matter.
A sombre mood engulfed the church service on Sunday. The sermon was disrupted at times, as faithful broke down in sobs and had to be helped out of the church.
At the same time detectives mingled with the faithful, gathering clues on last night’s incident.
At the bishop’s home, a few kilometres away, other faithful, friends and relatives gathered to console the wife.
The bishop had three children - Emmanuel, 16, Winner, 12 and three-year-old Peace.