A lone attacker deliberately targeted Christian children when he lobbed a grenade into a Sunday school class at the St. Polycarp Parish of the Anglican Church of Kenya located in Juja Estate -Pangani, Nairobi. The attack, which came around 10:30 am on September 30th, killed 9-year-old John Ian Maina instantly and injured nine others. Kenyan citizens and political leaders alike expressed outrage at this atrocity while John’s parents, Patrick and Jane Maina, are struggling to come to terms with their loss.
A crowd of enraged young men gathered at the scene soon after the attack, but police quickly moved in to quell the threatening riots. Tensions however remained high in the area. The victims and their families, along with the entire church community, were stunned by the attack. “We had sat in class for just about five minutes before we heard something explode,” Maureen Mwangi reported as she waited for treatment accompanied by her mother. Her brother sustained serious injuries. “We heard an explosion and immediately instructed the children to lie down, but they were too terrified and ran out. Many were injured in that stampede.” Usher Paul Muigai reported.
Six boys and one girl aged between six and ten years old were rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital, where two of them were immediately rushed into surgery and one was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. “The other four have soft tissue injuries and have been treated and discharged,” The attending doctor reported.
“Children are very innocent. I wish the grenade had been thrown in the adult section, at least we have served our lives!” said a sad parent Jackline Nduku, as she gathered outside the hospital with other shocked parents, relatives and friends.
Though no one has yet been arrested in connection with the attack, some speculate that the suspect may be an Al Shabaab sympathizer angered by the AMISON military victory over the Somalia Port City of Kismayu, or it may have been someone sent to settle scores over a long-standing land dispute between the church and persons claiming the church land.
According to eye-witness reports, some Muslims were seen taking pleasure in the tragedy that has hit the Christian community. Leaders were, however, quick to dispel the idea that the attack was religiously motivated. “This church has had problems for many years,” said Mr. Maina Kamanda, a former member of Parliament. “There are people who have been claiming that this is their land and I have personally been invited to a meeting aimed at resolving the conflict. I ask the court to quickly resolve the land dispute as it might be the reason for this unfortunate incident.”
“This is not a religious war but is a definite indicator that we do have enemies of the Body of Christ,” noted Bishop Margeret Wanjiru, Member of Parliament. “Out of situations like this, we get more motivation to serve God better and as a church we will not give up,” said Rev. Steve Shisia, as the church prepares to move forward in ways that honor God.
Father, we lift these children up to You as they recover physically and emotionally from this traumatic event. Protect their lives, Lord, and protect their minds and hearts from fear and bitterness. We lift up Patrick and Jane Maina as they grieve the loss of their son John. Comfort them with Your presence. We pray for church leaders as they consider how to respond and as they pursue resolution of the land conflict. As they respond in God-honoring ways, may they be a testimony to neighbors and friends so that the gospel might be proclaimed. In the name of Jesus, the protector of our souls, Amen.