Four killed and 20 injured in Likoni church attack

Sunday March 23 2014

Mvita MP Abdullswamad Shariff Nassir consoles Dennis Nicholas, 42, at the Coast General Hospital after he was injured during an attack by gunmen at a church in Likoni March 23, 2014. KEVIN ODIT/NATION.

Mvita MP Abdullswamad Shariff Nassir consoles Dennis Nicholas, 42, at the Coast General Hospital after he was injured during an attack by gunmen at a church in Likoni March 23, 2014. KEVIN ODIT/NATION. Photo/KEVIN ODIT

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The number of the people killed in Likoni church attack Sunday morning has risen to four while 15 others are undergoing treatment after balaclava-clad gunmen opened fire at worshippers attending a church service in Likoni constituency of Mombasa County.

The Likoni police boss Robert Murithi said the gun attack left two dead on the spot and eight escaped with critical gunshot injuries while two others died later from injuries.

The attackers arrived at the Joy in Jesus Church at about 10.30am before one of them who entered the church from the back door started shooting sporadically at worshippers.

Eyewitnesses told the Nation, another two gunmen armed with AK47 rifle and a pistol stood guard outside the church while at the same time firing at the fleeing worshippers.

According to the Joy in Jesus Church pastor’s wife Lilian Omondi the attacker who entered the church was a tall and slender man dressed in a long sleeve yellow shirt and a trouser.

She said the attacker armed with AK 47 rifle killed the 60-year-old guard at the door before proceeding on to shot other church attenders seated on plastic chairs.

“He entered the door from backdoor. I came face to face with him. Luckily, I escaped unhurt as he started the random shooting aiming at anybody and everything on sight,” she said adding that in the ensuing stampede many others were injured.

Describing the assailant as 'tall and slender’, Mrs Omondi said he injured more than 10 people as churchgoers scampering for safety.    

Talking to Nation, Mr Benson Okoth said that the gunman walked casually passed him after he went down on the ground pretending to be dead.

“I saved my life by playing dead because he casually walked past towards the congregation before opening fire,” he said. “Some worshippers screamed as others fell down on the floor to avoid being shot.”

Speaking at the scene of incident, the Likoni OCPD Robert Muriithi told journalists that the attackers arrived and left on foot after attacking worshippers.

However, Mr Murithi said they were getting 'conflicting’ reports from the eyewitnesses who were giving different versions of what happened.

“But we are following leads that will help us unravel those behind this attack,” he said adding they were treating the incident with the seriousness it deserves.

The police recovered a bag of live bullets which is believed to have been left by the gunmen as they walked away and melt into the sprawling Shonda village.

At the church, it was a grisly scene of strewn attenders’ personal effects, blood stains, overturned chairs and numerous gunshots marks.

Attempted to attack another church

As the attackers left the Joy in Jesus Church, according to Mr Muriithi, they attempted to storm another nearby church but hastily left on realising it was being manned by police officers.

At Coast Provincial General Hospital, medical personnel had hectic moments dealing with the victims as anxious relatives throng the casualty department to know the fate of their loved ones.
A visibly shocked victim, Juliet A Mumia, 62, said hell broke loose when unknown gunman opened fire and starting shooting indiscriminately.

“I just heard pop pop tutu tutu and saw people lying on the floor lifeless. But when everything went silent I found my granddaughter bleeding from the head while her brother escaped with minor injuries,” she.

According to her the situation was chaotic as everybody struggled to escape the lone gunman in the church and the two standing guards outside the premises.

Her daughter whom they had left behind when she took her grandchildren for the 10 am mass service stood at the emergency ward bedside crying and unable to speak while occasionally mopping her tears.

The CPGH chief administrator Dr Bernard Mwero confirmed they had received four bodies from the Likoni church gunfire incident.

By midday the number of victims hospitalized and undergoing treatment was 11 plus three children one of whom was taken for scanning to assess the extent of head injury.

One of the doctors attending the injured told the Nation the majority of victims suffered thighs, legs, groins, and stomach and head injuries.
“Like this patient ( a man) has two bullets lodged in his lower part and we will be taking him for surgery to remove them,” the doctor who is not authorised to speak to the press said.