Authorities in Uganda and Kenya have increased the vigilance of their security forces in response to warnings from Western countries that Al Shabab is planning to attack churches in Uganda.
The U.S. embassy in Uganda warned that local churches may face “specific threats” from Al Shabab- a Somalia-based militant Islamist terrorist group. The threats against the two East African countries appear to be in retaliation for the presence of their peacekeeping troops in Somalia.
“All the churches have been informed. The anti-terrorist police and police board in Uganda are providing security to the churches. There are further efforts to inform the people on what the explosives may look like so that they can identify them. We are especially concerned about the situation based on what we have seen happening in Kenya,” Rev. Mead Birungi of World Shine Ministries told World Watch Monitor during the International Convention on Healing of the Nation last week.
On May 21st, a grenade attack a few meters from a mosque in Garissa, near the Kenyan border with Somalia, is believed to have killed one and injured 11. No one has yet claimed responsibility. On May 16th, 10 people were reported killed and more than 70 people injured in Gikomba, a market in the capital city, Nairobi. Three people died and 86 were injured during twin blasts on May 5th, along Kenya’s busy Thika highway.
Some Western countries, such as Great Britain, the United States, France and Australia, have issued travel advisories concerning Kenya, due to the threats from Al Shabab. Many British tourists in particular have abandoned plans to travel to Kenya or have returned home early.
“The influx of guns and other dangerous weapons into the country is alarming,” Cardinal John Njue, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, said May 9th. “Suddenly, Kenyans cannot go to places of worship without fear. A country that has for years been called the ‘Oasis of Peace’ in the region has become a terrorist playground.”
“As a Christian, I feel that the threat to churches is an issue of orientation. Some people are simply bad and hide behind religion to settle scores. There is no possible justification for taking another’s life,” said a resident of Kampala, who asked not to be named.
The sentiment is shared by Birungi, who said the Interreligious Council in Uganda has been working with the majority Christians and other religions to voice their united opposition to any possible attack.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father, we pray for Your hand of protection over Your church in Kenya and Uganda. Cause Your peace to wash over them in the midst of the threats. Grant them both wisdom and courage as they gather for worship each week. Give them compassion for their Muslim neighbors; that many might be drawn to Christ through their godly lives. Heal the memories of past attacks, and bring to their minds the compelling evidence of Your fierce love and protection over them. Intervene and overrule in the plans of Al Shabab; that what they intend for evil may be turned to good on behalf of Your church, and that Your name might be lifted high. In the name of Jesus, our shield and sure defense, Amen.