Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - The proto-Cathedral of Our Lady of Consolata in Marsabit, a Catholic church in northern Kenya, on the border with Ethiopia, was sacked during violent demonstrations for the arrest of a Muslim preacher. The looting dates back to Saturday, January 13, when the special police team arrested Sheikh Guyo Gorsa, accusing him of having ties with the Somali Shabaabs.
The commotion attracted the attention of people nearby who came to learn of the arrest, at least 400 young people took to the streets of the city, trying to stop the police convoy where Sheikh was taken. This led to clashes with the police while the youth budged into the station and confronted the police demanding the release of their preacher.
The youth blocked roads and lit bonfires using tyres. From the Police station they turned their anger to a nearby Kenya Commercial Bank which is just a few meters from the Police station and vandalised the building. "When they were dispersed from there they went to the Catholic Church, forced their way in after beating up the watchman and completely destroying the gate. Once inside the compound they started breaking windows using stones. Fortunately, they did not gain entry into the Cathedral", said Fr. Ibrahim Racho, Vicar General of the diocese of Marsabit, also three cars belonging to the diocese parked inside the church complex were destroyed.
Fr. Racho reports that the police arrived in time and dispersed the rioters but unfortunately huge losses and serious damage to property, especially to shops, hotels and restaurants were not spared.
Three people were killed and several others were injured in the clashes. However, no one was injured in the proto-Cathedral complex except for the watchman who suffered minor injuries.
Fr. Racho explained that there was no religious tension between Christians and Muslims in Marsabit. "Before we were peacefully coexisting and this for me, I want to believe is not a religious animosity but just the anger of the Muslim youth over the Sheikh".
The judiciary has ruled that he will remain in custody for 30 days pending the completion of investigations. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2018)