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Compassion flow in Kenya after terrorist attack

Compassion flow in Kenya after terrorist attack

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

18 January 2019

By Fredrick Nzwili*

Dozens of acts of compassion, overflowing patriotism and individual courage have marked the responses to a Nairobi terrorist attack. The country’s faith leaders strongly condemned the violence.

Twenty-one people – including American and British citizens- were reported killed in the attack at DusitD2, an upmarket hotel and office complex on 14 Riverside Drive in Nairobi’s Westlands area.

The attackers – according to the police - had stormed the seven- story complex on 15 January and shot randomly before gaining a temporary grip on the building.

Rev. Peter Karanja, general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Kenya (NCCK) sent condolences for the deaths, and said the entire family of the protestant group was greatly saddened by the attack.

“The NCCK takes this moment to condemn the terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Drive, Nairobi. There is no cause whether religion, social or economic, that can justify such gross barbarism,” said Karanja.

An unspecified number of people were injured in the attack, which occurred in the same area as Westgate shopping mall, where al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based militant group staged another assault killing over 67 people and injuring over 200 others.

“We are praying for all who were injured that God may grant them healing,” said the leader. “We have taken time to pray for Kenyan and visitors who are traumatised by this attack.”

Rev. Fr Joseph Mutie, chairman of the Inter-religious Council of Kenya  warned against blaming any faith for the attacks saying no religion would condone such violence.

“It is such great violation of the dignity of humanity and sin to kill innocent people. Harming and killing innocent people can never be and will never be justified in anyway,” said Mutie.

The country has experienced increased terror attacks since 2011 when Kenyan forces entered Somalia to fight al-Shabaab.

But Mutie said with citizen’s support and increased diligence of the security forces, Kenya can be at peace and the constant threat posed by terror attacks can be ended.

“It will take the courage of the men in uniform (security officers) together with intelligence to protect citizens in a timely manner. And for the citizens to fully cooperate, be vigilant and act as the first bulwark for defense of their country,” said the leader.

On 16 January, president Uhuru Kenyatta said that over 700 civilians had been safely evacuated from the scene. He declared that the operation over, after all the terrorists were eliminated.

“I take note of the Kenyans who took to social media to encourage one another, to spread hope and hold those distorting information to account. Kenyans showed the world the best part of us: brave, patriotic, loving and unbowed,” he said as he called on the citizens to remember dozens of other countries experiencing similar attacks.

“I thank our international partners who are showing solidarity in standing with us at this moment, as they always have,” he said.

The opposition leader condemned the attack as a shameful act of cowardice perpetrated by enemies of human civilization, while also commending the security agencies for a rapid response.

“We commend our citizens for being each other’s keeper and responding to appeals for blood donations,” he said.

DusitD2 was seen as a symbol of Kenya’s economic success.

WCC general secretary extends prayers for victims of the Nairobi attack (WCC press release of 16 January 2019)

WCC member churches in Kenya

*Fredrick Nzwili is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi.