Kenya: Worship service targeted in deadly grenade attacks *Cuba: Authorities declare Good Friday 2012 a Holiday

April 5, 2012 by  
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Nurses attend to a victim from a blast at the Coast General Hospital in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa on March 31, 2012

Kenya, April 4, 2012: At least 2 killed, 30 injured in grenade assaults by terrorist group

Two twin grenade blasts Saturday killed an estimated two people and injured over 30 in a Kenyan city where Christians had gathered to hold an outdoor worship service.

The first blast was thought to be a grenade attack during a Christian worship service in Mtwapa, a town outside Mombasa. That blast killed two and injured over 30, International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian advocacy group, informed The Christian Post Tuesday.

Immediately after the that first blast, another took place in a packed restaurant in Mombasa, reportedly injuring five people.

In Mtwapa, the Christians were holding an outdoor worship service at the time of the attack.

“Three people who were sitting in a parked car near the site of the event threw a grenade and drove away,” the Rev. Simon Kirariuki Kimami, a pastor with the Kenyan Assembly of God, told ICC. “Then I heard a blast and saw some women down, crying for help.”

More than 150 Christians were attending the outdoor service. One woman died on the spot, Kimami said. About 15 people were seriously wounded. Two days after the blast, a young boy died from the injuries, the pastor said.

Kenyan officials blame members of the radical Islamic group, Al-Shabaab, which merged with al-Qaida earlier this year and has declared war against the nation, for the attacks. Kenya has suffered a string of grenade attacks since it sent its troops across the border to Somalia last fall to battle al Shabaab rebels.

Although it was not clear whether the attack on the worship service had a religious undertone, local and international Christians have responded with calls for peace.

“My message to Christians around the world is to be steadfast in serving and honoring the Lord Jesus Christ, even in the face of persecution and sometimes violent attacks,” Patrick Muchiri, pastor with the Mombasa Pentecostal Church told ICC. “[I urge Christians] not to retaliate. [Rather] they should show love even when they are attacked.”

“We are deeply concerned about the bomb attack targeting innocent Christians,” ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said in a statement e-mailed to CP. “We urge Kenya to protect its citizens from the growing attacks of the radical Islamists.”

The advocacy group also informed CP that a Muslim prayer meeting was taking place 900 feet away, but was not attacked.

– christianpost

Kenya: Explosion at Christian meeting in kills boy, woman


Kenya, April 03, 2012: Al Shabaab Islamic extremists suspected of throwing grenade into open-air evangelistic event.

An 8-year-old boy died today from injuries after suspected Islamic extremists on Saturday (March 31) threw a grenade into a Christian revival meeting near Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa that instantly killed a woman and injured at least 30 people.

Kenyan Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said Islamic extremists from the rebel al Shabaab militia in Somalia were suspected of carrying out the deadly blast, although the group has not claimed responsibility. The government, which began military operations against al Shabaab in Somalia last October, today issued a warning of a possible attack by al Shabaab during Easter celebrations in Kenya this weekend.

The names of the boy and the woman who died after the suspected Islamic extremist threw a grenade into the open air meeting in Mtwapa have not been released.

Christians in coastal areas of Kenya were gripped with fear after the attack, which took place between 7 and 7:30 p.m., according to an eyewitness. The meeting, organized by the Mtwapa Pastors’ Fellowship, brought together 500 Christians from 16 denominations at the Kandara event site in Kilifi County, 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Mombasa. It began on Friday and would have continued through Sunday were it not for the attack.

“Someone inside a moving Nissan vehicle threw a hand grenade towards the podium where the preaching pastor, the Rev. Daniel Mwendwa of the Miracle in the Village Church, was ministering, and there was a group of singers close by,” said eyewitness Harrison Tembo Chome, pastor of the Holy Jerusalem Church. “Everything came to a standstill. There was wailing and immediately the police, the army and ambulances arrived.”

More than 30 people were seriously injured, mostly singers leading worship, he said.

Three people have been arrested in relation to the explosion, but it was not clear what relation they had with al Shabaab, if any.

“What we as the church are almost certain of at the moment is that the incident seemed to be a religious fight against Christians,” said another pastor who asked to remain unnamed.

About 300 meters from the Christian evangelistic meeting, a Muslim gathering near Kipingo Pharmacy Road took place throughout the week and continued during and after the blast, Christian sources said.

“Why were only the Christians affected and not the Muslim gathering, which had been going on for a longer period of time?” said one Christian. “On Sunday we the Christians could not continue with our meeting, but the Muslims continued. Why did they continue when they knew that such a terrible incident had happened close to where they were holding their religious meeting?”

A police investigation is continuing.

The attack comes after attacks and kidnappings in the area and elsewhere last year prompted the Kenyan military to strike at al Shabaab targets in Somalia. At press time Kenyan soldiers were moving towards Kismayo, an al Shabaab stronghold not far from Mombasa.

With estimates of al Shabaab’s size ranging from 3,000 to 7,000, the insurgents seek to impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on Somalia, but the government in Mogadishu fighting to retain control of the country treats Christians little better than the al Shabaab extremists do. While proclaiming himself a moderate, President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed has embraced a version of sharia that mandates the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

– cdn

Cuba: Authorities declare Good Friday 2012 a Holiday


Cuba, April 03, 2012: In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s specific request to Cuban President Raúl Castro, the Cuban government has announced that this coming Good Friday will be a one-time national holiday.

The government’s short statement, published March 31 in the official newspaper “Granma,” said that the Pope requested the holiday declaration “in honor of the religious celebrations that take place on the occasion of the passion and death of Jesus of Nazareth.”

Minutes before the Pope’s departure from Cuba on March 28, President Raúl Castro told the Pope of his desire to declare Friday, April 6 a holiday “as an exception, and in consideration to His Holiness and the happy results of this transcendental visit to our country.”

However, authorities will decide in the future whether the holiday will become permanent.

Leaders of the Cuban Revolution suppressed all religious holidays following the island country’s 1959 communist takeover.

The Christmas holiday was reinstated in 1998 after Pope John Paul II’s specific request to then-President Fidel Castro during the pontiff’s historic visit to Cuba.

Pope Benedict requested the Good Friday holiday in his Tuesday meeting with Fidel Castro’s brother and successor, Raúl Castro.

The Cuban government’s March 31 statement said that the decision to make Good Friday a permanent holiday in Cuba “has been left up to the highest governing organs of the nation.”

Although President Castro and the Council of Ministers are in practice the highest authorities, in theory the ultimate decision depends on the Communist Party.

In Rome, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi expressed enthusiasm.

Fr. Lombardi said the fact that the Cuban authorities “quickly welcomed” Pope Benedict’s request to declare Good Friday a holiday is “certainly a very positive sign.”

“The Holy See hopes that this will encourage participation in the religious celebrations and joyous Easter festivities, and that the visit of the Holy Father will continue to bring the desired fruits for the good of the Church and all Cubans.”

An official reaction from the Cuban Bishops’ Conference is expected on Monday.

A source in the Catholic Church in Cuba, who spoke to CNA on condition of anonymity, expressed the Church’s surprise at the quick positive response from the government.

The source, who is not with the bishops’ conference, said that the onetime declaration fits a pattern of government behavior towards the Catholic Church. The Cuban government, by leaving open the decision to make the holiday permanent, keeps using the “carrot and stick” policy usually applied to the Catholic bishops with the aim of discouraging criticism.

– eurasiareview

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