It is with great sorrow and pain in the heart that we inform you of a shocking incident at a well-attended Church function yesterday. In the presence of several hundreds of people attending the event at Our Lady Queen Of Peace (Todonyang Mission), a Dassanech elder from this neighbouring community in Ethiopia was murdered in cold blood. There were children and adult faithful, the Bishop of Lodwar, Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich, and Ethiopian and Kenyan authorities present. Bishop Dominic was presiding over the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the parish, the confirmation of 50 Christians and the blessing of 4 new classrooms. The celebration of the mass had just ended and the fund-raising family day contributions was about to start. The killing of the elder occurred in front of the Pontifical Missionary Children of all the Deanery (over a 100 children) and the children from the Parish school (more than 150). Other persons present in the mission compound were the Orthodox priest and deacon from Koro (Ethiopia); Fr. Goesh Abraha, the Parish Priest of the Catholic Church in Omorate (Ethiopia) with some of his visitors; Fr. Imo Bassols, the parish priest of Lokori Parish, Turkana South, who had come with a delegation of Catholic Men’s Association of Lokori Parish; Fr. Albert Salvans from Lobur Mission and members of the Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle with visitors from their various missions of Nariokotome, Kokuselei and Todonyang; the Assumption Sisters from Lowarengak Parish, the local MCA and Turkana County authorities and elders of the area.
The motive for the murder is unknown, and it was carried out right before the Kenya Police, GSU and RDU units. Everybody present was shocked and the children of the school were very traumatised. The perpetrator escaped amidst a group of young turkana warriors who appeared to be backing him. The name of the deceased is Mzee Lobakate Lobolemai from Koro village in Ethiopia. Bishop Dominic, Fr. Alex Campón, the parish priest and Caritas Lodwar Director, Fr Goesh Abraha, Fr. Albert, and Scholastica Wamalwa and Patrizia Anniballi from Nariokotome Mission, together with the Ethiopian Orthodox priest and deacon and all the ethiopian delegation (the Deputy Chief Administrator from Omorate was among them) who came to the celebration escorted the body of the deceased back to Koro village where the rituals and prayers for burial where held, headed this time by the Orthodox priest.
Due to this despicable act, the school at Todonyang Mission has been closed and the children sent back home, and all development and pastoral activities of the Parish has been put on hold until security and confidence is restored. We await the security forces of Kenya to apprehend the culprit, dismantle this group of warriors, and return security to the area.
Let us pray from the bottom of our hearts for the end of violence and evil acts. May peace be restored.
Fr. Álex Campón, MCSPA.