VATICAN CITY — Kenya’s bishops criticized the country’s lack of security following the senseless murder of at least 50 Kenyans in the North Rift – less than a month after the terrorist attack on Garissa University College in April, which left 148 dead.

“A government that cannot protect its own people loses its legitimacy to govern,” the bishops said in a written statement at the conclusion of their ordinary plenary assembly on May 4-8 in Nairobi.

“The government, which swore to protect Kenyans, seems hopelessly incapable of offering permanent solutions to perennial insecurity,” they said in the statement, reported by the Vatican’s Fides news agency May 11.

The bishops called for a push to “unite to end corruption and save our country,” and recalled the 42 security officers who were murdered in the same Rift Valley in November 2012.

The conflict in the region has been worsening, they said, “especially after the discovery of oil and other minerals” in the area. “Hundreds if not thousands of lives have been lost in this perennial conflict that has erroneously been called ‘cattle rustling’, but which we as church leaders call brutal murder,” they said.

“These murders, including the deliberate targeting of Christians for execution, are unacceptable,” they said.

“Decisive action must be taken,” the bishops said, adding that “disarmament, economic and local peace initiatives need strengthening.”

Corruption within the Kenyan government has crippled the economy and the country as a whole, said the bishops, who pledged to “not tire of reminding the government of its constitutional mandate to protect lives and provide basic services.”

The plenary assembly came after the Kenyan bishops’ “ad limina” visit to Rome April 13-17 and their meeting with Pope Francis.