Arsonists set five church buildings on fire and threw faeces on the charred structures from Jan. 20 to Jan. 24 in a village in western Kenya, sources said.
St. Monica Church's building was burned on Jan. 20 in Otamba village, in the Nyaraibari Chache area of Kisii County.
On Jan. 21, the buildings of the Worldwide Church with 100 members, a Seventh-day Adventist church and a Legio Maria (an indigenous movement that broke with mainstream Roman Catholicism in 1963) congregation were torched; at about 3 a.m. on Jan. 24, arsonists burned the building of a 250-member Pentecostal Church, all in the same village.
"Apart from setting the churches ablaze, the arsonists also committed the heinous acts of scooping human feces onto the buildings to discourage the faithful from attending their ruined churches," an area source said. "A majority of the church members were afraid to attend services [in or near the ruins] in the aftermath of the burning of the churches, fearing that the arsonists might follow them right into their homes, risking the lives of their families."
The churches incurred damages in the millions of Kenyan shillings to the structures, chairs and other items in the buildings, the source said.
The Church and Clergy Association of Kenya condemned the burnings in a press statement.
"We demand the investigating authorities to get to the bottom of the matter and expose the agents of such heinous acts," the statement reads.
Church leaders have appealed to police to increase security in the area and find and prosecute the culprits. Daniel Ratemo, chairman of the Pentecostal Church, appealed for financial support and prayers.
A priest at the Legio Maria church called on police to find the arsonists.
"Evil should not overcome the good that the gospel of Christ brings," said the priest, whose name is withheld for security purposes.
Kenya was ranked 49th on Christian support organization Open Doors' 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
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