By Stan Friedman
MPEKETONI, KENYA (June 16, 2014) — Friends and relatives of Evangelical Covenant Church of Kenya (ECCK) members are among the 48 people confirmed dead in an attack by the Somali militant group al-Shabab in this coastal town on Sunday.
The government has told news outlets that about 50 men attacked hotels, banks, police stations, and other sites.
Many of the ECCK churches are located in Mpeketoni, Simon Kamau, the denomination’s moderator said in an email today.
“Pray with us as we mourn the death of our people,” said Kamau, who currently is in Colorado.
On a Facebook post, Githaka Wa Gichu wrote that so far none of the ECCK members have been identified among those killed, “but some of our relatives were shot dead…classmates and close friends…it is very painful.”
Some of the victims had gathered to watch the World Cup since they do not have their own TVs, said Marc Murchison, pastor of Lanyon Covenant Church, in Lanyon, Iowa, who has traveled to Kenya several times. The first four churches of the denomination were organized during a month-long trip he took there.
He had stayed at a hotel that was destroyed on Sunday, as have other Covenant leaders including Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission.
To see photos of the hotel and other damage, see this story on the Voice of America website.
Militants aligned with the group have committed numerous acts of violence, including last year’s assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, leaving 67 people dead.