Blast in Kenya Church Kills Pastor, Wounds 11

A pastor was killed and 11 others were wounded in Garissa in eastern Kenya on Sunday after suspected Islamist extremists attacked a church during the worship service with a grenade or other explosive.

The blast took place at the Utawala Interdenominational church in the Administrative Police compound in the town of Garissa at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The church is situated in a predominately Muslim area.

Morning Star News identified the pastor who was killed as Julius Mukonzi, and reported that at least three of the 11 injured had wounds so serious they were air-lifted to Kenyatta General Hospital in Nairobi.

The grenade was launched through the sheet-iron roof of the church building, a source was quoted as saying. It was said to have "landed right at the podium where the chaplain was delivering a church sermon, hitting him right at the forehead, and he died immediately."

The services ended prematurely, "then followed several gun shots," the source added.

On Sept. 30, a 9-year-old boy was killed and several others were hurt in a grenade attack on a children's Sunday school class at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) St. Polycarp church in the Pagani area in Kenya's capital Nairobi.

More than 80 percent of the 43 million people in Kenya are Christian, and Muslims account for less than 9 percent.

It is suspected that the blast could be a revenge attack by sympathizers of Islamist terror group al-Shabaab in neighboring Somalia, where Kenyan forces are involved in fighting the Islamist militant group.

Al-Shabaab, whose real name is Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Mujahideen Youth Movement), is an al-Qaida-linked terror group that controls and runs a de facto "government" in most of southern Somalia.

The al-Shabaab splintered from a now defunct group of Sharia courts, the Islamic Courts Union. It is seeking to overthrow the Transitional Federal Government, created in 2004 and supported by the African Union, the United Nations and the United States. Since the outbreak of the 1991 civil war which overthrew President Siad Barre's regime, most parts of Somalia have had no formal government. The transitional government controls only a small part of the country.

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