Ten suspects have been arrested after five churches were set alight in Kenya in quick succession.
In the first attack, St Monica Church was torched in the early hours of January 21. The Worldwide Church, Nyang'eni Seventh Day Adventist church and a Legio Maria church followed on January 23rd and 24th. On the 26th, arsonists broke into the Otamba Pentecostal Church compound and set it on fire, leaving a trail of destruction.
The attacks all happened in Otamba, Kisii county.
Charles Mayara, the pastor of Worldwide Gospel church spoke to International Christian Concern (ICC). "This was least expected," he said. "We are still in shock because we were not prepared for it. We began the year well and asked the Lord to be with us. Things have turned upside down and we are counting losses. We suspect that the attacks are being carried out by a gang of people who feel disgruntled by the stand taken by believers against the rape culture in this community, drug abuse and radicalization among the youth, and early marriages of school girls."
Samuel Okello a pastor in Kisii town has asked security agents to offer security to churches. He said: "We also know that apart from radicalization and drug abuse the church is preaching against, many young people have joined cults that hate the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We urge the security apparatus to protect our churches against such people that are used by the devil. The recent attacks portray a form of persecution to believers because now they even fear going to church."
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, added in a statement: "Kenya, a majority Christian nation, is often overlooked as a place where Christians suffer for their faith. Despite this, Christians in Kenya suffer at the hands of Islamic Extremists from Somalia on a regular basis. This kind of attack is expected along the border of Somalia where al-Shabaab is able to attack Christians easily. The worry is that Islamic extremism is spreading further into Kenya and will cost many more Christians their lives."