By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Kenyan authorities have detained 10 people after five churches were set on fire in Kenya’s southwestern region, rights activists confirmed Thursday.
The arrests followed arson attacks in the town of Otamba in the African nation’s volatile Kisii County over the January 21-26 period, Christians said.
The attacks caused “great concern among the community residents,” added Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), an advocacy group closely following the situation.
In the first incident, St. Monica's Church was burned in the early morning of January 21, VOMC told Worthy News.
The following days, “The Worldwide Church, the Nyang'eni Seventh Day Adventist church, the Legio Maria church, and the Otamba Pentecostal Church compound were also set on fire,” VOMC explained.
“The vandals added insult by throwing human feces at the burning buildings,” the group said. In the aftermath, church members have reportedly been fearful that their homes and families may be in danger.
Additionally, financial losses suffered by these congregations “are huge,” as the structures and contents of the buildings were extensively destroyed, according to VOMC investigators.
Church leaders in Kenya have urged for increased security in the area and the prosecution of those responsible.
In published remarks, a pastor of the Legio Maria church said, "Evil should not overcome the good that the Gospel of Christ brings."
VOMC said it had urged its supporters to “Prayerfully lift up the members of these destroyed churches as they seek direction in the days to come.”
VOMC asked prayers that “the financial needs of these congregations would be met, and that they will receive the healing and emotional support required to overcome the resulting trauma.”
The group said it hopes that “those responsible for the crimes be held accountable “for their actions. “Ask God to work mightily in the hearts of each community member -- including those of the perpetrators -- drawing more people to faith in Christ.”
No motives were immediately known for the reported arson attacks. However, Kenya has seen an increase in violence against devoted Christians from Islamic militants and others opposed to their faith, rights investigators say.