CHURCH SHOOTING IN MOMBASA WORRIES TOURISM INDUSTRY
(Posted 24th March 2014)
Hot on the heels of major successes in intercepting and preventing Al Shabaab’s latest attempts to disrupt life in Kenya, assisted by foreign intelligence services and operatives, come reports of a Sunday church shooting in the Likoni area of Mombasa which left at least four worshippers dead and many more injured.
Over the past two weeks were several cars containing explosives tracked down and suspected Al Shabab / Al Qaida members arrested with likely connections to both Somalia and Yemen. Airport security in Mombasa was tightened yet more and other potential targets at Kenya’s Indian Ocean port city given added protection, all at a time when demand for tourism to the Kenya coast from abroad remains below average and several hotels and resorts are struggling to stay afloat.
A regular coast based source expressed his disgust over the incident when he said that the Kenya coast Muslim community has always been respectful of and coexisted peacefully with the Christian communities and that if such attacks on a church were aimed to fuel interreligious hatred they would fail. ‘It is not in the teachings of the Koran to do such things. We have been living alongside each other for too long to have our community relations disturbed like this. I think the vigilance everywhere else maybe had them choose a soft target like it happened last year in towns along the border with Somalia. We condemn such acts completely, it is against Islam and people should see that it is not a whole religion doing this but a few criminals using Islam for propaganda’.
According to other reports the first to be killed was an elderly man who acted as a guard on a back door, before a lone gunman entered the hall and opened fire, causing worshippers to flee through the main door where other gunmen lay in wait outside to shoot at them too. Since late morning a dragnet in the Likoni area has been rolled out and roadblocks established by police and other security organs in order to capture the killers.
Notably is Likoni on the mainland side of the only direct connection with Mombasa island by ferry and thousands of cars and tens of thousands of commuters cross the main channel which connects the Indian Ocean with the port of Mombasa. Other sources have in the past regularly confirmed that there is always a strong security personnel presence at the ferry landings on both sides, especially after a failed grenade attack last year on a vehicle which carried foreign tourists. No arrests have been made at the time of uploading this report.