(Edited from reports by Sam Gonza, ENI, The Independent Newspaper, The Times) In scenes of unprecedented mayhem and carnage, Kenyan paramilitary police stormed All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Nairobi, on 7 July attacking pro-reform advocates who were sheltering inside and leaving the cathedral covered with blood and the pews broken and scattered.
The pro-reform advocates had sought refuge inside the cathedral after having been ejected from the nearby Uhuru gardens, one of the venues for a number of rallies taking place to demand constitutional reforms ahead of elections due by the end of the year. The rallies had been banned by the government of President Daniel arap Moi who described the reformists as "anarchists" and warned that police "would be out in full force".
Police threw tear gas canisters inside the Cathedral and then moved in wielding truncheons. An elderly opposition MP and several dozen other individuals bled profusely as other victims groaned with pain in the pews.
The provost of All Saints, Peter Njoka, who was conducting a prayer service when police stormed the Cathedral, described the police action as "the height of moral degeneration".
"This is hardly the action of a government that professes Christianity," he said.
Altogether, it has been reported that ten people died, including one policeman, and scores of others were injured in various parts of Kenya as police using tear gas, truncheons, rubber bullets and live ammunition broke up demonstrations calling for democratic reform.
The rallies were called by the National Convention Council to demand constitutional reforms and an independent electoral commission.
Timothy Njoya, an outspoken cleric belonging to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, and one of the conveners of yesterday's rally in Nairobi, was beaten senseless and left bleeding profusely from a head wound. He was rushed to the Central Nairobi Hospital where he was kept overnight in intensive care.
Police set upon him in the precincts of the Cathedral on 7 July afternoon, about an hour after the storming of the Cathedral. The Revd Njoya appears to have tried to talk to the police officers before he was attacked.
After the demonstrations in central Nairobi were dispersed, demonstrators moved to the east of the city where they fought running battles with police, according to reports.
Last Saturday (5 July), the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki, urged the organisers of the demonstrations to call them off.
"They should ask for licences for the reform rallies persistently and resort to other means only after exhausting all legal channels", he implored.
But the Anglican Archbishop of Kenya, David Gitari, said that the government should not intervene.
"We don't want chaos in this country. It is only fair that the government does not disrupt the rallies," Archbishop Gitari said.
The Times added the report that clergymen, MPs and a group of Kenyans were at prayer when President arap Moi sent in the riot police into the cathedral. The police tear gassed worshippers and thrashed MPs with pick axe handles. Through the tear gas the Revd Timothy Njoya, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, advanced towards them with his hands raised in surrender and he was kicked to the ground and savagely clubbed on the head.
In Nairobi, many of the civilians who were not participating in the demonstrations were seized at random, battered with pick axe handles and robbed by military, police and Kenyans feared paramilitary General Service Unit.
The Independent using Reuters added that at least four people were killed when police broke up protests, badly beating organisers of opposition-backed rallies and firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds. ...Witnesses said that the General Service Unit and police fired tear gas inside Nairobis All Saints Cathedral and beat several demonstrators, including Muturi Kigano, Chairman of the unregistered Safina party, and opposition members Kamau Icharia and Njoka Mutani.
Statement by the Primate of Southern Africa on the situation in Kenya
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, has expressed shock and outrage at attacks on pro-reform protesters in Kenya yesterday, in which at least ten people are reported to have died.
The Archbishop said he was particularly incensed at the way in which police officers beat demonstrators during a service in Nairobi All SaintÕs Anglican Cathedral. They also fired teargas into the Cathedral during the attacks.
Archbishop Ndungane said his office had been in touch with the Anglican Church in Kenya to express his condolences and concern.
Canon Enos Ashimala, the Provincial Secretary of the Church of the Province of the Kenya, said that as a result of the attack, the Cathedral had been desecrated, and all services suspended until Sunday 13 July, when a ceremony of cleansing will be held.
He said that several people in the Cathedral had been badly beaten in the attack, with blood streaming from their wounds.
Archbishop Ndungane said he welcomed the news from Canon Ashimala that an apology has been given for the attack, but noted that it had taken place even after an assurance from a senior police officer that the Church's activities would be respected.
Archbishop Ndungane said the attacks on protesters were reminiscent of the oppression of the worst days of apartheid, and called on the Kenyan government to take heed of the Kenyan peopleÕs demand on it to initiate reform and dialogue with elected leaders.
He said the attack brought to mind an incident in June 1972, in which students protesting on the steps of St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, had been attacked by police, chased into the Cathedral, and beaten.
Update from ENI on 10 July
(ENI) Churches and Church leaders from around the world have protested against the violent suppression this week of pro-democracy demonstrations in Kenya.
At least ten people have been killed, and many others injured, in the violence which began on Monday as police suppressed pro-reform demonstrations, and which continued yesterday when heavily armed police stormed the campus of the University of Nairobi, beating students and lecturers.
Canon Enos Ashimala, the provincial secretary of the (Anglican) Church of the Province of Kenya, said that the Cathedral had been desecrated as a result of the attack and that all services would be suspended until Sunday 13 July, when a service of cleansing would be held.
The Revd Timothy Njoya was reported yesterday by a Nairobi hospital to have been taken off the danger list.