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Kenya church leaders condemn Westgate attack
Kenya church leaders condemn Westgate attack
The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has condemned last Saturday’s terrorist attack on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi’s Westlands area that has claimed 69 lives and left more than 175 injured.
The General Secretary of NCCK Rev. Canon Peter Karanja sent condolences to all the families and friends who lost their loved ones in the incident.
In a statement Monday, Karanja asked God to grant all the affected comfort and consolation.
“We join the nation in sending our heartfelt condolences to all the families and friends who lost their loved ones. May God the creator of humanity give you consolation and comfort. Let your hearts be encouraged by the words of Isaiah 53:4(Surely he took our infirmities and carried our sorrows),” said Karanja.
He thanked the emergency response staffs who have managed to rescue over 1000 hostages from the gunmen said to be between 10 and 15.
Al Shabab militants said they carried out the attack, the worst in Kenya since the August 7, 1998 US Embassy bombing in which over 200 people died, to revenge the invasion by the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia in pursuit of its members.
Meanwhile, India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, has expressed India’s deep shock and sorrow at the tragic loss of innocent lives as a result of the brutal terror attack.
In a statement from the Indian High Commission in Kenya, the Prime minister in his letter said that the attack ” is a stark reminder that the persisting menace of terrorism remains a formidable challenge that calls for a concerted and sustained response from the global community”.
Conveying India’s strong condemnation, the Prime Minister said they stand in solidarity with the President Uhuru Kenyatta, the government and the people of Kenya in this hour of grief.
Dr. Singh, underlined India’s preparedness to assist Kenya in its efforts.
According to the High Commission , India has been closely monitoring the developing terrorist attack and confirmed that two Indian nationals, including a child have succumbed to injuries and at least four others have been injured.
Elsewhere, the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) has condemned attack saying the heinous act should not divide Kenyans along religious lines. In a statement to newsrooms signed by IARF Secretary General Lawrence Adera, the organization said the attack is by people who have no value for human life and who pretend to profess religious faith.
The statement called on religious leaders to come together and preach peace adding that the Westgate incident is completely unacceptable.
On Sunday, Muslim leaders termed the attack by suspected Al Shabaab militants as purely terrorism. Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) Secretary General Adan Wachu and Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar asked Kenyans to ignore the militants’ propaganda.
KENYA: Statement on the Westgate Mall Siege
NAIROBI, September 23 2013
On Saturday, 21 September, 2013, more than ten gunmen stormed and took siege of the Westgate Mall in Westlands, Nairobi, shortly before midday. The gang opened fire killing innocent men, women and children of all nationalities and ages. Heavy gunfire and explosives were heard at the mall throughout Saturday. Since then, the attackers, believed to be led by a woman, are feared to have killed at least 62 people, with 175 injured. Although the Kenya Defense Force (KDF) has gained access to the mall, it is unknown how many victims are being held hostage and to this date, the attackers are still held up within the mall. It is however estimated that up to a thousand people who had been hiding in the mall have so far been rescued.
These recent attacks have brought the country into a standstill as Kenyans are afraid of what the outcome might be. Malls and streets usually milling with activities are now nearly empty as people are staying indoors. Despite the fear, Kenyans turned out in large numbers to donate blood for the victims. Many have also sent in monetary support for use in purchasing hospital supplies. This is the third day since the attackers seized the mall and it is still unclear how the situation will end.
As Jesuits of Eastern Africa Province, we highly condemn these heinous and cowardly acts by the attackers, believed to be part of the al-Shabaab militant group. We stand firmly with the Kenyan government and support their efforts in ending this ordeal and the wider menace of terror. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families, survivors of the attacks and the hostages still trapped within the mall. It is terrors like these, in Kenya and around the world, that undermine the very values and way of life that we try to promote. They reinforce the need for us to continue advocating for peace and justice. We therefore strongly reiterate our commitment to peace and a faith that does justice and that the security of all Kenyans is paramount.
We ask that our brothers and sisters around the world keep the people of this great nation in their prayers. We are hopeful that the good Lord will bring these atrocities to an end.
Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ Provincial