Saturday, January 05, 2008

Assembly of God Church burnt in Kenya

Raid on church leaves 35 dead as chaos spreads


Elizabeth Wangoi wails near the Kenya Assemblies of God church in Kiambaa, Eldoret, where more than 35 women and children were burnt beyond recognition. The women and children sought refuge there after their homes were burnt in violence over disputed presidential poll results.

Publication Date: 1/2/2008 - Daily Nation

At least 35 people, most of them women and children, died on Tuesday in Eldoret in the most bizarre killing yet in the ongoing post-election violence.

They were killed when more than 200 youths burnt down a church where residents of two villages in Eldoret South constituency had sought refuge.

The Kiambaa and Kimuri villagers were caught unawares as the youths chanted war songs and surrounded the Kenya Assemblies of God church in Kiambaa in the afternoon.

Serious burns

Those who tried to escape were waylaid and burnt in a nearby shamba.

One of the dead, police confirmed, was a disabled woman in a wheelchair.

A pregnant woman who sustained serious burns on her leg was among 20 survivors who were rushed to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital for treatment.

According to a survivor, Mr Joseph Kamande, 47, the killers accused those camping in the church of having voted for President Mwai Kibaki.

“They said we must pay for our decision to vote for President Kibaki,” he said.

Mr Kamande said he was lucky to be alive after he fell into a ditch, leading the killers to believe he had died.

But he lost his wife, three children and two grand-children in the incident.

Another survivor, Mrs Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya, 102, had gone to answer a call of nature when the attack occurred.

Peter Munderu, 44, said he lost his three children. “Many bodies are still buried in the debris,” he said.

The killings brought to 50 the number of deaths reported around the town on Tuesday alone.

Eleven others had been killed in Langas estate early Tuesday morning.

Humanitarian crisis

The town is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crisis in its history.

Kenya Red Cross officials estimated that more than 30,000 families had been forced out of their homes.

The displaced families have packed into police station compounds, churches, schools and mosques to capacity.

But the families, mainly women and children, are facing a serious shortage of food and water as all shops and supermarkets remained closed.

Uchumi Supermarket, which had remained the only open shopping outlet, was closed yesterday after it ran out of stocks. There is also a shortage of medicine and sanitation.

“We are kindly appealing to donors and humanitarian organisations to help supply food items to the women and children that are facing starvation,” said Mrs Mary Kiptanui, a volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross.

Calls were being made yesterday that a way be cleared to enable displaced people travel to their rural areas.

“We are facing a critical humanitarian and security situation in Eldoret,” said Mr Mohamud Jama an elder in the town.

“There is heavy fighting in the outskirts and there are no signs that the flare-ups will end any time soon,” he added.

Many bodies lay at the Moi University Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary.

“We need urgent measures to help us collect the bodies from the mortuary for burial,” said Mr Jama.

Provided refuge

Former State House Comptroller Ibrahim Kiptanui, who helped rescue two children from the hand of killers, described the situation as grave.

In Kisumu, at least 56 people have died and 1,500 others displaced following skirmishes that have rocked the area in the last five days.

Kisumu central and Kondele police stations provided refuge to many of the displaced while others camped at the Kisumu West DC’s office after groups of people destroyed their homes and threatened to lynch them.

Their attempts to secure transport back to their ancestral homes hit a snag after vehicle owners refused to ferry them, fearing that they may be attacked along the way.

Nyanza PC Paul Olando said a group of residents had requested the administration to assist them move out of Kisumu.

He said security arrangements had been made among three PCs to hand over the people at their boundaries.

Kisumu DC Jamleck Mbaruga was holed up in a meeting with the vehicle owners for the better part of the morning.

When the press called on him in his office, he said, “We are discussing how to get these people out of this place to a safer zone.”

He, however, did not elaborate whether the Government will provide alternative means if they fail to reach an agreement.

The riots that entered the fifth day yesterday have left a lot of damage in their wake. The protesters burnt down several residential and commercial buildings in the town, looted from shops and injured several people.

Mr Mbaruga described the situation as terrible but assured that the Government was doing everything possible to restore normalcy.

Additional reporting by Walter Menya


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