A group of anti-abortion Kenyan churches and Christian groups on Monday blamed Kenya’s government for involvement in two explosions that ripped through a packed rally protesting the country’s proposed constitution.
The accusation over Sunday evening’s attack could set a contentious tone between the groups supporting and opposing the draft constitution, which the country votes on in early August. The most divisive issue in the proposed constitution is on abortion, which the draft would allow to save the mother’s life.
Kenya’s president and prime minister support the new constitution, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged Kenyans to embrace constitutional reform during a speech here last week. But prominent politicians and Kenya’s church community want the draft defeated because of its allowances for abortion and a clause that would recognize informal courts used by Kenya’s Islamic community.
“Having been informed over and over that the passage of the new constitution during the referendum is a government project, we are left in no doubt that the government, either directly or indirectly, had a hand in this attack. Who else in this country holds explosive devices?” said a statement signed by the National Council of Churches of Kenya and 14 other churches and groups.
Two blasts ripped through a downtown Nairobi park at dusk Sunday as a rally against the draft was concluding. Some of the victims suffered severe injuries from the blasts, but others were wounded as the crowd of thousands stampeded out of the park after the second explosion.
Authorities on Sunday said five people had died, but police on Monday said they had found a sixth body ? a 51-year-old man with shrapnel wounds in a car next to the park. He was believed to have been injured in the blast and stumbled to his car, where he died.
Paramilitary police combed through Uhuru Park on Monday for clues. They walked in a long horizontal line through the expansive field of grass.
Backers against the draft said the explosions would not deter their campaign, and the group of churches said they also held the ‘yes’ campaign to pass the new constitution responsible for the blasts.
“We therefore hold the government and the Yes team responsible for the attack and for the blood that was shed unless they prove to Kenyans that someone else planted and detonated the devices,” the group said.
The last major bombing in Nairobi was in 1998, when the U.S. embassies here and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were hit simultaneously, killing 225 people in an attack blamed on al-Qaida.
Source: The Associated Press.