On Thursday, Al Shabaab stormed Kenya’s Garissa University College campus which is just 150 Km away from Somalia. Al Shabaab took Christians hostage and engaged security forces in an extended shootout.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Father Nicholas Mutua the Garissa Diocese Justice and Peace Coordinator and assistant parish priest of St Mary’s Catholic Church in Garissa.
Fr. Mutua has described the attack on the university as “barbaric” and by people who have “dead consciences.” He added, “These are not God fearing people because the Koran urges Moslems to respect “People of the Book” meaning Christians.
Fr. Mutua said many Catholic students from the university were very active in the parish and that most of the students were from different parts of Kenya.
According to Fr. Mutua, the attack was not entirely a surprise as Al Shabaab had warned they would attack. “There have been threats after some Al Shabaab militants were gunned down by the Kenya Defence forces,” Fr. Mutua said.
Asked if he was afraid, Fr. Mutua who is not from Garissa said, “Yes..we are afraid.. we feel tense. Even when I am walking in the city, I know I can die any time…and I know some Moslem Imam friends of mine who have been killed for condemning these terrorist attacks,” Fr. Mutua said but quickly added, “If we run away from this place, who will evangelise the people? A lot of people in the past (Missionaries) persevered under difficult circumstances and because of their toil and suffering they planted the seed of faith that we have today,” He said.
Nevertheless, Fr. Mutua said the words of Pope Francis, urging tolerance, dialogue and his assurance that he is close to the suffering people of Africa, through prayer, are a source of great strength to him and to parishioners.
The almost 1000 parishioners of St. Mary’s have to be guarded by security forces each time they go into Church to worship.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio)