Kenya diocese evacuates Catholic priests and personnel from violent areas

Kenya diocese evacuates Catholic priests and personnel from violent areas

Kenya diocese evacuates Catholic priests and personnel from violent areas

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Following the brutal killing of a Catholic priest on Saturday, the Diocese of Nakuru began an operation on Monday evening to evacuate Catholic personnel trapped by continuing ethnic violence, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reports.

Priests and church workers from 10 parishes in the Kalenjin heartland in central western Kenya were evacuated.  This comes after members of the Kikuyu and Kisii communities have been targeted for violence after December’s contested elections triggered attacks that have killed 800 people nationwide.

On Saturday Father Michael Kamau Ithondeka was killed by armed youth at a roadblock near Nakuru.  He was beaten to death with crude weapons. AFP reports that 64 people have been killed in Nakuru since the fighting started.

A Catholic priest told CISA that suspected Kalenjin fighters, armed with bows, arrows, spears, machetes, and gasoline on Sunday attacked the town of Burnt Forest, intending to kill people displaced by the violence.  Security personnel repelled the attackers, but the priest feared they were planning another raid on the town.

In Gigil town, two people were killed, houses were burned, and businesses were closed down.  About 800 people had taken refuge in a Catholic parish compound.

Father Fred Ogambi in Kisumu (about 85 miles west of Nakuru) told CISA that youths had chased away teachers and students from schools to keep them closed.  The schools were scheduled to open on Monday.

In recent days there has been calm in Eldoret, where some of the worst violence was committed in the immediate aftermath of the contested election.  However, about 13,000 people are camped at the Eldoret fairgrounds, and likely will not leave soon for fear of being attacked.  Nixon Oira of the Eldoret Catholic Justice and Peace Commission said that dismal conditions in the camp have driven some women to prostitution.

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