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Catholic Bishop is Shot Dead in the North
CAPA 050718-1
July 18, 2005

[Courtesy of Catholic Information Service Africa]

[CAPA - Kenya] The Catholic bishop for Isiolo in northern Kenya has been shot and killed. Bishop Luigi Locati died at 77.

Armed raiders shot him dead at his residence in Isiolo, 250 km north of Kenyaís capital Nairobi, on Thursday evening, July 14, 2005. He was rushed to the nearby Isiolo District Hospital, but died 90 minutes later.

The late Bishop Locati was an Italian fidei donum cleric from the Archdiocese of Vercelli.

Bishop Locati came to Kenya in 1962, to the then Meru Diocese. He was appointed to Isiolo Parish in 1963, where he served until his Episcopal appointment in 1995, to head the new Diocese of Isiolo, created from that of Meru.

His residence and the Isiolo cathedral are situated within a rich complex of diverse institutions and projects which he established during his service in Isiolo spanning more than 35 years.

Joseph Samal, the Isiolo Diocesan Development Coordinator, spoke to CISA, with the details of the tragedy:

At 7:45 pm, Bishop was walking from the Pastoral Centre to his house, accompanied by a watchman. There was also another watchman elsewhere in the compound. They heard people behind them.

The Kenya Episcopal Conference officially confirmed the death. The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya, His Excellency Archbishop Alain Paul Charles Lebeaupin, also spoke on a local television channel about the bishopís murder.

Samal said that when the immediate watchman enquired who it was, he was hit. One of the raiders shouted a command in a local dialect. On that order they started beating the Bishop. Then they pumped bullets into him and fled. He died at Isiolo District Hospital before plans to airlift him or summon air rescue were complete.

There had been at least two previous attempts on Bishop Locatiís life. In September 2004, he walked into his house from the Pastoral Centre, only to be attacked by two men who had been waiting inside. During one night in March 2005, unidentified people exploded a small device outside his house.

No motive for the killing has been advanced so far.

When asked if the incident could be related to raging turmoil in parts of Marsabit District, 400 km north of Isiolo, Bishop Mugambi of the neighbouring Meru said that was not likely.

I donít think so, he said.

Bishop Locati has to his credit numerous projects that benefited all people of Isiolo and beyond, irrespective of religious, social, ethnic or any other boundaries.

Among these are Macci Boys and Macci Girls Secondary Schools, both in Merti Parish. These schools were recently rocked by conflicts. They were then closed.

Students had expressed some grievances. The local community joined in, demanding that the two schools should be headed by people from the local area.

In July 2004, Bishop Locati ordered them opened. Could it be that he had stepped on some peoples toes when he took his stand on the matter pertaining to the running of the two private church schools, or that some people wanted to have exclusive control over these or other resources?

May God rest his soul in eternal peace.