Riots hit Kenya after Muslim cleric’s assassination

Nairobi: Several people came out on the streets, smashed cars and torched churches in the Kenyan city of Mombasa on Monday after unknown gunmen shot dead a Muslim cleric accused by the United States of helping al-Qaeda affiliated group, Al-Shabab, in Somalia.

Several youths, who took to the streets after the killing of Aboud Rogo Mohammed, blamed police for the killing of Muslim cleric.

“It’s an attack on Muslims, and we will not take it lightly,” said Suleiman Atham, one of the protesters.

He further said “These are police who have killed our innocent Sheikh. They have shot him dead. They imposed on him terrorism charges, arrested and charged him, now they fear the court will release him, and have decided to end his life,” said Athman, one of the protesters.

Police denied having any involvement in the shooting which wounded Rogo’s wife.

Deputy police chief Robert Kitur said that the Muslim cleric was killed while driving in a private car.

“Unknown gunmen attacked his vehicle … sprayed it with bullets and killed him on the spot,” Kitur said. “They must have been targeting him, and must have been trailing him for a while.”

In what police described as an act of impulse rather than a planned strategy to target Christians, protesters tried to burn down two churches, setting furniture on fire before the flames were extinguished.

Protesters also set alight a government vehicle, stoned cars along the main highway linking Mombasa to Malindi, both popular tourist destinations, and burned tyres to block the road.

Chanting slogans of ‘Allah O Akbar’, they smashed windscreens and headlamps while others looted shops.

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets in the air to disperse the protesters. One protester was killed after being hit by a stone on his head, Kipkemboi Rop, the Mombasa area police chief, said.

Later many shops were shuttered and streets usually thronging with shoppers and foreign tourists were deserted.

Kenyan police arrested the preacher in January, seizing firearms, ammunition and detonators, but later released him on bail.

He was previously acquitted of the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa which killed 15 people — 12 Kenyans and three Israelis — as well as three suicide bombers.

The cleric is also alleged to have introduced Fazul Abdullah Mohammed — the late head of Al-Qaeda’s east Africa cell, shot dead last year in Somalia’s war-torn capital Mogadishu — to at least one of the men who helped him carry out the twin U.S. embassy bombings in 1998.
The bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed 224 people.


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