20 May 2014

Escalating terrorism; increased crime and insecurity; horrendous traffic accidents; chaotic demonstrations and riots

Pangani (east side of Nairobi) suicide attack by two terrorists.
Two policeman also died in the explosion just a couple weeks ago.

Last Wednesday, 700 British tourists were evacuated from Mombasa, due to increased intelligence regarding impending terrorist attacks. And sure enough, on Friday, there were two explosions in Nairobi. This time it happened at a large outdoor market near downtown (specializing in used items such as clothing, shoes, and bedding). In past attacks, it's been churches, shopping malls, buses and other public transportation vehicles, car bombs, etc.

In light of the recent escalation of terrorist attacks and other worrying issues in Kenya, I thought it prudent for me to provide an update.

Two buses suffered from bomb explosions
on the same day on Thika Road, heading out of Nairobi.
Six people died in this attack that happened very recently.

Escalating Terrorism

The following is an excerpt from an email I received last Saturday from the Kenya US Embassy: 
US citizens in Kenya should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. Violent and fatal criminal attacks, including armed car-jackings, grenade or bomb attacks, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi.

The US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at US, Kenyan, and other Western interests in Kenya, including the Nairobi area. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings (including car bombings), kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels near Kenyan ports. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.

In the past year and a half, there have been numerous attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices in Kenya (mostly in northeastern Kenya). In total, over 100 people have been killed in these attacks and hundreds have been injured. Twenty grenade and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have occurred in Nairobi, illustrating an increase in the number and an advance in the sophistication of these attacks. Friday, May 16, two IEDs exploded at the Gikomba market in Nairobi killing 12 people and injuring 80.

Kenya initiated military action against al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab by crossing into Somalia on October 16, 2011. On June 2, 2012, Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whereby it formally joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Kenyan troops within AMISOM are now actively pursuing al-Shabaab in southeastern Somalia.  In response to the Kenyan intervention, al-Shabaab and its sympathizers have conducted retaliatory attacks against civilian and government targets in Kenya.

Injured arriving at the hospital

Saturday newspaper report (excerpts): 
US Ambassador Robert Godec said additional Kenya security personnel are patrolling around the embassy and that more US Marines will arrive from Washington next week. "Unfortunately, the security situation in Kenya, especially in Nairobi and Mombasa, continues to worsen. Since the tragic events of Westgate in September 2013, the number of attacks, threats, and warnings is deeply concerning," Godec said, referring to the assault on Westgate Mall by four al-Shabaab gunmen that killed 67 people. Five US citizens were confirmed injured in that attack.

In 1998, Al-Qaida bombed the U.S. Embassy in downtown Nairobi, killing more than 200 people. It was relocated after that attack, and now sits far off the road and is surrounded by thick walls.

Armed Marines have recently begun patrolling the US embassy grounds wearing bullet-proof vests and helmets. The frequency of emergency "duck and cover" drills for embassy employees have increased. The largest US diplomatic facility in East Africa, the embassy has at least 1,300 employees inside it on any given day. Godec said he is reducing the number of Americans stationed in Nairobi. He maintained that the embassy would remain open for normal operations and there were no plans to close it down, stating his foremost interest was to protect American citizens and keep them informed.

Increased crime and insecurity
Excerpt from another email from the US Embassy in Kenya: On April 27, two gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot a security guard during an attempted robbery at an entry gate of a local shopping mall in the Westlands area of Nairobi.  Crime in Kenya is rampant, indiscriminate, at times violent, and happens in all parts of Kenya.

CCTV cameras have recently been installed in strategic
places in Nairobi, in an effort to boost the war on crime.

Horrendous traffic accidents
Kenya has twice the number of traffic deaths, per capita, as does the USA. The majority of these people are vulnerable road users – pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists. In addition, nearly one-third of deaths are among passengers – many of whom are killed in unsafe forms of public transportation.

Ten people lost their lives in this accident just a
few days ago, on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway.

Chaotic demonstrations and riots
Text message I received today from the US Embassy: The student demonstration in downtown Nairobi has turned chaotic. Police are using tear gas. Avoid travel to the area and monitor news for updates.

Riot police were called in to disperse the university students in today's demonstration.
The students threw stones and caused chaos and mayhem.
Several key roads in downtown Nairobi were barricaded and businesses closed their doors.

Biblical perspective
Sunday's church service: Because these acts of terrorism and the increase in crime are on everyone’s mind, it was the theme of our service yesterday. The worship leader chose songs about lifting our heads and living above our circumstances. The service leader read Psalm 7: 9, 10 - “O righteous God, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.”

The sermon's title was ‘Fear or Faith; Changing our Operating System’. The following are excerpts: "Is my OS faith or fear? Who has the ultimate authority in my life - God and his Faith OS or the enemy and his Fear OS? Fear, at its root, always has a 'What if… ' attitude and leads to captivity and anxiety. Fear operates in the natural and gives authority to my human knowledge and experiences. Fear is a counterfeit Operating System.

"Faith, at its root, has a 'But God says… ' attitude. Faith is a persuasion that what God said is more true than what my five senses tell me. When Peter got out of the boat, he chose to believe what Jesus said (‘Take courage; it is I. Don’t be afraid. Come.’) and shifted his OS from what human sense told him (‘I will sink.’). The opportunity to live in faith certainly comes every day in Nairobi, Kenya… whether it’s crime that is increasingly armed and brazen, the horrendous and dangerous traffic, or the escalating acts of terrorism.

"Remove the cloak of fear! What’s happening in Kenya is counterfeit! God is still in control and he rules and reigns in this land! Do not live in fear. God is faithful. Walk in his authority every day. Live in peace and joy. Walk with power and bear fruit. Chose God’s OS!" Many in the packed auditorium repeatedly shouted ‘Amen!’ and there was much applause.

I hope you'll watch this video of Chris Tomlin's powerful song. We sang it on Sunday and I've had it on repeat play numerous times since then.

Chorus lyrics: I know who goes before me. I know who stands behind. The God of Angel Armies is always by my side. The one who reigns forever; he is a friend of mine. The God of Angel Armies is always by my side.

Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life; gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

If what you call your 'faith' in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not faith at all - not faith nor trust in Him - only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him. ~C.S. Lewis

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your heart be troubled; do not be afraid. In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ~Matthew 6:27; John 14:27; John 16:33

God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says – "I will be with him in trouble." It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man’s life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God. We are "more than conquerors in all these things." Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our ingenuity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ. 
"Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword separate us from the love of Christ?" Tribulation is never a noble thing; but let tribulation be what it may – exhausting, galling, fatiguing. It is not able to separate us from the love of God. Never let cares or troubles separate you from the fact that God loves you. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest 

I've said it before, but it bears repeating - Please pray for me regularly!

The earnest, heartfelt, and continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available and is dynamic in its working. ~James 5:16, Amplified

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[Note: All photos were found in internet searches.] 


Anonymous said...

Deb, I'm so sorry to hear of all the violence going on in Nairobi.
Your picture is on my fridge and I continue to pray for you.
Love you and miss you.
Haven't heard from you for a long time. Peggy

Joel Masha said...

wow am happy for the blog.Good work,i pray that Good keeps you safe,He is our refuge. Let Him reward you

deb said...

Peggy, thanks so much for your faithfulness in praying for me!

deb said...

Great to hear from you, Masha! Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I still have in my mind to take you up on your offer for a free night at your hotel on the coast!