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Police link Al Shabaab to Ngara church attack

Updated Friday, May 4th 2012 at 16:31 GMT +3

By CYRUS OMBATI

Police have blamed Somalia’s terror group Al Shabaab for the grenade attack at a church in Nairobi’s Ngara area that killed two worshipers and injured 14 others.

Commissioner of police Mathew Iteere on Friday circulated a photograph of a Kenyan who he said had been to Somalia for militancy and came back to the country early this year saying he was behind the attack.

Iteere identified the man as only Amar saying his picture was taken in Kismayu beach, Somalia. “The photograph was taken in a beach in Kismayu few months ago and we have learned he returned to Kenya together with others early this year,” said Iteere.
The photograph has since been shown to some of the worshipers of the God's House of Miracles International Church who survived the April 29 attack and they have positively identified him.

Terror suspect alias Amar [Photo: Courtesy]

The police boss told journalists at police headquarters in Nairobi they are yet to know the whereabouts of Amar and appealed for help from the public to get him. He added Amar is armed and dangerous and he may be in possession of explosives.
Iteere said Al Shabaab had through one of their leaders identified as Sheikh Ismael Ali claimed responsibility for the grenade attack and vowed to dispatch more suicide bombers to Kenya.

He said Ali took responsibility on May 1 while addressing a group of members of the terror group in Kismayu.
The police boss at the same time revealed there are tens of Kenyan youths who went to Somalia to join the terror group and are now back to the country with a mission to stage terror attacks.

He appealed for public support to identify the individuals and monitor them accordingly.
“We are appealing to anyone with information regarding these individuals to present it to police or someone who can help.
The attack happened inside the church in the area as about 100 worshipers knelt down praying.
Apparently, according to witnesses the attacker had gone to the church pretending to be a worshiper before he lobbed a grenade at other worshipers.

The incident occurred at around 8.50am as the first service at the church was coming to the end.
Survivors said the attacker who was also armed with a pistol hurled the grenade when part of the congregation had moved to the front side near the pulpit of the church for prayers.
What shocked some of them was that when they chased him out of the church as he escaped, he flushed out a pistol and shot twice to the air to enable him escape.

Police have since analysed the spent cartridges that were collected from the scene and linked them to his gun saying it has not been used locally. Iteere said Amar first went to the church that is near Ngara Girls few kilometers from the city centre at about 8 am on a rare mission.

The stranger went out and came back minutes later as the other worshipers congregated and took a seat that was far back from the pulpit but amongst others.

He then sat and waited as the leading pastor had called her worshipers to the pulpit for prayers and hurled one grenade at them.
“The worshipers were in deep prayers when he stood up and hurled it to the front side of the church. The explosive hit one of the worshipers’ back before it landed a meter away exploding.”

The grenade, which experts say was manufactured in China created a hole where it landed, as it went off injuring many.
Internal security minister George Saitoti said security agencies are “alive” on terrorism and urged for continued vigilance from Kenyans at large. “We are alive and strong on terrorism,” he said.

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