NAIROBI // Gunmen in Kenya's Mombasa city shot dead an imam accused by the United States and the United Nations of supporting Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, sparking rioting in which one person died.
The killing yesterday of Aboud Rogo fits into a pattern of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of suspected terrorists that is allegedly being orchestrated by Kenyan police, say Kenyan human-rights groups.
Rogo was shot dead as he drove with his family in Mombasa, Rogo's lawyer, Mbugua Mureithi, said. Rogo's wife was wounded in the leg, said Rogo's father, who was also in the car along with Rogo's 5-year-old daughter. He said he and the girl were not injured.
At the scene of the killing, Rogo's wife accused police of the murder.
"It is you policemen who have killed him, we don't want a post-mortem or any help from you," said Khaniya Said Sagar to police who came to assist her.
She added that she was being taken to hospital for checks after she had a miscarriage two weeks ago.
Rogo's killing sparked off protests by hundreds of Muslim youths who went on the rampage in Mombasa, as his body was being taken for burial, in line with Muslim customs of burying the dead on the same day as the death.
The Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) condemned Rogo's murder, calling it an "extrajudicial killing" and calling for an "an end to targeted killings and enforced disappearances of terrorism suspects".
The MHRF chairman, Al Amin Kimathi, said that last month that Rogo and Abubakar Shariff Ahmed, who were both suspects in a terror-related case, survived an abduction attempt by gunmen they claimed were state agents who accosted them as they arrived in the capital, Nairobi.
The abduction attempt was foiled by members of the public who came to their aid when the two shouted for help as they resisted the heavily armed men, Mr Kimathi said.
Fearing for their lives they sought an adjournment and a transfer of the case from the Nairobi courts to another town, he said.
A police spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, and his deputy, Charles Owino, did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment about allegations that police were involved in the killings.
This year, Rogo was charged with possession of a cache of guns, ammunition and detonators. Rogo also faced charges of membership in Al Shabab, the Somali rebel group that is linked to Al Qaeda and that has been outlawed in Kenya.
Police charged that Rogo was part of terror cell, affiliated to Al Shabab that was planning to bomb Kenyan targets over Christmas. Other alleged cell members include a Briton, Samantha Lewthwaite, who police said was on the run.
Ms Lewthwaite is the widow of Jermaine Lindsay, one of the suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters in multiple bombings of London's transport system on July 7, 2005.
The other is Briton Jermaine Grant, sentenced to three years in prison for immigration offences and lying to a government official. Mr Grant is also charged with conspiring to commit a felony and possessing explosive materials.
Rogo was acquitted in 2005 of murder charges for the 2002 bombing of a tourist hotel which killed more than 12 people.