Fear gripped worshippers at Kianyaga Catholic Church in Kirinyaga on Sunday morning after a device believed to be an explosive was discovered in the compound.
Worshippers arrived for Mass early in the morning only to be informed that an explosive device had been planted in the church.
The panic-stricken worshippers scampered for safety as police, led by Gichugu OCPD Mohammed Huka, arrived and sealed off the scene.
According to the worshippers, a security guard stumbled on device at the entrance of the church at around 6.30am.
On seeing the device, the guard, Mr Ronney Kamanja, kept vigil and when the worshippers arrived for the Mass at 9am, he cautioned them against going close to the entrance of the church.
"I informed the worshippers that there was a dangerous object and they panicked," Mr Kamanja said.
Baragwi Ward representative David Mathenge, who later visited the church, called on the police to beef up security in all churches and public places.
Governor Joseph Ndathi, whose home is about a kilometre from the church, said he was equally shocked.
"I was at home when I received information that an explosive had been seen in the church and I was really worried," he said.
Mr Ndathi said the device would have killed many worshippers if it had exploded and called on worshippers to report any suspicious people seen in the area.
The county boss also said the matter was serious and told the police to get to the bottom of the matter.
Worshippers later regrouped, with Fr Simon Kanji saying Mass in the church compound.
Fr Kanji observed that terrorists were now targeting places of worship and asked Christians to be on high alert.
"It is by the grace of God that we are safe," said Fr Kanji.
County Commissioner Erastus Ekidor and Gichugu MP Njogu Barua arrived at the church and condemned the incident.
Mr Ekidor told the worshippers that it was likely that some disgruntled characters wanted to cause bloodshed. He, however, called for patience as police investigated the matter.
Mr Barua called on the police to thoroughly investigate the matter and bring those responsible to book.
"This is a grave matter and the law enforcers should act very fast and expose those who had planned to cause bloodshed," said Mr Barua.
Mr Huka confirmed that the object was highly explosive, adding that it could not be immediately established who had planted it.
"It is an explosive and we have launched investigations with a view of establishing who had planted it there," said Mr Huka.
Mr Huka said ballistic experts from Nyeri had been contacted and would arrive at the scene to examine the device.
"We would like to know whether it is a grenade or a bomb," he said.
Later, bomb experts from Nyeri detonate the device which the said was improvised.
Early 2016, another explosive device was found inside Kutus Catholic Church in the same county but it was safely detonated by the police.