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Kiambaa Church Massacre in 2008 was an accident, Ruto tells Americans

Kenya Assemblies of God Church

Kenya’s second in command downplayed the incident in which a baying Kalenjin mob trapped hundreds of Kikuyus inside a church before setting it alight - killing up to 35 people.

According to media reports, the about 3,000 machete-wielding Kalenjin youths surrounded the church in Kiambaa village on New Year's Day in 2008 where scores of Kikuyu women, children and disabled had sought refuge.

The mob, many of whom had painted faces and were singing war songs, prevented anyone escaping from the church before setting it on fire.

The attackers were painted with white clay... some had machetes, axes and sticks

The attackers used bicycles to block a main entrance of the church to stop people escaping, while youths laid in wait at another exit.

According to the International Criminal Court, the massacre was part of a plan of ethnic violence orchestrated by Ruto to "satisfy his thirst for power" after disputed 2007 elections.

To execute the plan, the attackers first pelted the church with rocks to pin down the women, children and elderly people seeking shelter inside.

The armed men then slammed the church doors shut.

 They piled bicycles and mattresses outside the main entrance and blocked a smaller door at the back. They went about their business efficiently.

According to media reports, inside the small Kenya Assemblies of God Church in Kiambaa, just outside the town of Eldoret in western Kenya, dozens of terrified people huddled together. They were Kikuyus, members of the tribe that has borne the brunt of the violence that followed the disputed presidential election pitting Party of National Unity Mwai Kibaki against ODM’s Raila Odinga.

The media reports say the attackers  poured fuel on the mattresses and piled on dried maize leaves from a nearby field.

 Then they set the barricades alight and waited until the flames burned high.

The church turned into an oven.

A day after the attack, witnesses and survivors collected their families’ belongings from the churchyard. In muted voices, they told their stories, reliving the horror.

After the attack, the International Committee of the Red Cross recovered 17 corpses but estimated that 35 people had died.

Among the victims was Emily Kimari who was lucky to survive KAG Eldoret Kiambaa Church Inferno on New Year eve of 2008.

Unfortunately, her 86-year-old mum could not escape.

She had six children including six weeks infant twins but two disappeared in the middle of confusion.

Her body and face were destroyed while she was trying to search for her kids.

She later regained conscious at Eldoret Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital where she was rushed by Good Samaritans after the attackers left.

Emily was reunited with her four kids, but she could never see her mother and her five-year-old and old eight-year-old sons again.

She lives with scars, every spot is a painful reminder of a happy and prosperous family she had.

The story of Emily is a just but an example of horrendous ordeals that people under went in Rift Valley.

The height of the violence was on January 1, 2008 when Kalenjin attackers who were unleashing murderers' violence on supporters of the presidential candidate who had just been declared winner, Mwai Kibaki, meticulously planned and torched down Kenya Assemblies of God Church full of women, children, and old people who had sought refuge there after learning of an imminent attack on Kiambaa Village in Eldoret.

Seventeen people, mostly women and children, were burnt alive inside the church, and more than eighteen other people were shot with arrows, hacked with machete, and killed outside the church.

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