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Could attacks on Kenyan churches spark violent Christian backlash?

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On July 1, suspected Islamists attacked two churches in Garissa, killing 17 and injuring more than 66 people in a style similar to that used by the Nigerian militants. One group shot dead two policemen guarding the Africa Inland Church (AIC), an Evangelical denomination, as another lobbed grenades at Our Lady of Consolata Roman Catholic Church. Islamists then proceeded to indiscriminately shoot the worshipers at AIC using  the dead police officers' weapons.

This attack was the biggest so far in the region where the denominations have been targeted since mid-October 2011, when Kenyan troops rolled into Somalia to pursue Al Shabab. As justification for its Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Country), Kenya accused the Islamic militants of killing and abducting its nationals, foreign aid workers, and tourists.

Last November, two people were killed and five others seriously injured in grenade attack on the Garissa Pentecostal Church. in the same month, six people died and 13 others were injured in two grenade attacks on a local restaurant.

“The Muslim world is 'jittery,' following revolution inside itself," says Dr. Ngumi, referring to the Arab uprisings that toppled North African governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and that continue to challenge the governments of Yemen, Syria, and Sudan. "Somalia is no exception, and we are going see more of these attacks as we continue with the war. This is a case to learn from northern Nigeria where similar [sectarian attack] cases involving Boko Haram have been occurring.”

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