Two people, one of them a seven-year-old boy, were killed in a grenade attack on a church in Garissa town on Saturday night. (Read: Two killed in Garissa grenade attack)
Five others were also injured when two grenades were thrown into Garissa East African Pentecostal Church. The two victims lived in the church compound.
The first grenade did not explode, while a third was found near the gate of a military camp in the town.
The government responded immediately by deploying both military and police officers in the town.
Internal Security minister George Saitoti, who was scheduled to attend a rally in Kitengela, was said to have been summoned to a meeting by President Kibaki following the Saturday attack.
Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula condemned the attack and said it vindicates Kenya’s military operation against Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants.
“The attack should serve to convince anybody who had questioned our operation in Somalia that there is need to fight extremists within the region, even as we call for thorough investigations, it is almost certain who is behind the attack,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
Military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir declined to comment, saying it was a police matter.
Deputy police spokesman Charles Wahongo confirmed the two deaths and five injuries in the attack.
The church’s pastor, Rev Ibrahim Makunyi, who was inside the church compound during the explosion, said two grenades were hurled into a house next to the main church entrance.
The shocked pastor said the first grenade did not explode but the second one did, leaving the two dead and five injured.
One of the victims died instantly while the other died at the Garissa Provincial General Hospital as doctors fought to save his life.
“I thought it was an electric fault, but when I rushed to the scene, I found the injured writhing in pain while one of those killed lay in a pool of blood,” said the pastor.
Spoke in Kiswahili
He said the attackers, who spoke in Kiswahili, were shouting: “Wacheni kunywa pombe!” (Stop drinking alcohol).
He said those injured, including a 65-year-old grandmother of the deceased child, were rushed to the provincial hospital where they are currently undergoing treatment.
By the time the Nation visited the church, hundreds of curious residents had thronged the church compound to find out more about the incident and comfort the bereaved family.
Armed military and police officers patrolled the church compound on Sunday.
Area MP Aden Duale asked the provincial security committee to investigate the incident, which he termed as inhuman and cowardly.
Mr Duale, who addressed Muslims during the Idd celebrations at Rtd General Mohamed Grounds in Garissa town, urged the public to cooperate with the government in the spirit of community policing.
“We should be concerned with everything around us. The Al-Shabaab has recruited from almost all the 42 tribes in Kenya,” said the MP.
Garissa Supkem chairman Abdullahi Salat also condemned the attack on the church, saying the attackers were sowing discord between Muslims and Christians.
The third grenade was found near Hella Petrol Station, a few metres from the Garissa military camp. Military officers took it away.
It was found at a stage for taxis and boda boda operators.
The Garissa town church attack brought to three the number of people who have been killed in grenade attacks in the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, Maj Chirchir reported that Kenyan forces had killed six Al-Shabaab militants in Burgavo town on Saturday.
The militants had tried to enter Kenya, but were repulsed by Kenyan troops who chased their boat up to Somalia’s Burgavo port town before sinking it.
Sunk their boat
“Our forces sunk their boat after a long chase from the Kenyan coast up to Burgavo. At one point they ran out of fuel at Mnarani on the Kenyan side and had to use force to obtain some from our fishermen. Our ground forces, however, caught up with them in Burgavo and sunk their boat, killing all of them,” said the military spokesman.
Local media quoted one Al-Shabaab commander identified as Hassan Yakub ordering Kismayu residents to join them in the fight against the Kenyan and Somali government troops in the region.
Kenyan troops are planning a major attack on the Al-Shabaab strongholds of Kismayu and Afmadow, seen as aimed at starving the militants of much needed revenue to fund their terror campaign in the region.
Additional reporting by Peter Leftie