On Sunday, a hooded gunman stormed into a Joy in Jesus Church service and indiscriminately fired at worshippers. Screams of pain and terror filled the air; some fell to the ground. Others tried to flee, only to meet with gunfire from two other attackers stationed outside the church, located near the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.
Many children, men and women fell and were trampled upon, while others were shot and immobilized. Two died on the spot. The attackers then calmly walked away, disappearing into the surrounding slums. Police later found a box containing 36 rounds of ammunition.
This morning the death toll had risen to six killed while 18 people, including 12 women and four children, are receiving treatment in a hospital. Of those admitted, two are in intensive care unit. Many have gunshot wounds while others are suffering from soft tissue injuries caused in the panicked attempts to escape. Those injured include 12-month-old Santrine, who has a bullet lodged in his head. As of last night, doctors were unable to remove the bullet.
"They (the terrorists) forced their way through the rear door and shot the watchman, who staggered into the church before falling down. One attacker shouted 'Allah akbar' (God is great) and started shooting in every direction," one survivor told the media.
At the same time, two other attacks were attempted at nearby churches, but were deterred by armed policemen who were on guard duty.
"We are saddened, but not surprised, as we have been hearing Muslim preachers promise over their loudspeakers that they will revenge the Masjid Musa incident (Feb. 2 in Mombasa) when security agents stormed the mosque and arrested approximately 200 people," reported an Open Doors contact who remains anonymous for security reasons.
"Actually, the terrorists targeted three churches, but fortunately were unsuccessful after being repulsed at the other two. We are resolute and will not be intimidated. This is the message we are sending to those that are against the gospel being preached in this area.
"We will not leave the area because we know that Satan only arises against the Church like this when it is making an impact. This is confirmation that we are doing something right for the Kingdom of God. This is the reassurance we are trying to pass on to our congregants, also."
The Open Doors contact added: "Please pray with us as we now move to make funeral arrangements and other plans. Our brothers and sisters need God's comfort, healing and strength."
Open Doors is on the ground helping support spiritual, emotional and relief efforts for the affected Christian community.
Kenya is ranked No. 43 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
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