x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Mombasa riots continue over death of imam

Violent backlash to the killing of a radical Islamic preacher continues in Kenya's second-largest city of Mombasa, leaving several people hospitalised.

NAIROBI, Kenya // Police and protesters fought running battles as a violent backlash to the killing of a radical Islamic preacher continued today in Kenya's second-largest city of Mombasa, which left several people hospitalised, police and human rights officials said.

The killing on Monday of Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who was shot to death as he drove in his car with his family, falls into a pattern of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of suspected terrorists, allegedly being orchestrated by Kenyan police, human rights groups say. The attack has brought to the surface tensions in a city established centuries ago by Muslim traders from the Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, now home to hundreds of thousands of people of Arab descent and a large Somali population.

Police officers teargased youths on their second day of protests. Hussein Khalid of the Muslim for Human Rights group said police were using teargas against stone-throwing protesters. Khalid said one person was stabbed and hospitalised today.

Regional Police boss Aggrey Adoli said officers were forced to keep violent protests from spreading after protests that led to the death of one person and the vandalism of two churches and businesses yesterday.

"We are trying to contain them so that we don't create more deaths. Deaths and destruction of property will not help with anything," Adoli said.

Mohammed was recently sanctioned by the US government and the UN for his alleged connection to an Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group, Al Shabab. He is the fifth alleged Muslim extremist who has been killed or who disappeared in the last four months, according to human rights campaigners. One corpse was found mutilated and the other four men vanished

Mohammed was shot dead as he drove with his family in Mombasa. His wife was wounded in the leg, said Mohammed's father who was also in the car along with Mohammed's five-year-old daughter. He said he and the girl weren't injured.

Adoli said police have asked Muslim elders and religious leaders to urge the young protesters to stop the violence. A team of investigators from police headquarters in Nairobi arrived in Mombasa to start investigating Mohammed's killing, he said.

Police believe that Mohammed had ties to Al Qaeda and was part of terror cell with links to Al Shabab militants that was planning to carry out bomb attacks in Kenya during Christmas. Other members of the cell include Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, who police say is on the run. She 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 about his identity. Grant is also charged with conspiring to commit a felony and possessing explosive materials

In January, Mohammed was charged with possession of a cache of guns, ammunition and detonators. He also faced charges of membership in Al Shabab

Al Shabab has vowed to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya sending troops into neighbouring Somalia to fight the group. The Kenyan government blames Al Shabab for several kidnappings on Kenyan soil, including those of four Europeans. The kidnappings greatly harmed the Kenya's coastal tourism industry.

Mohammed was acquitted in 2005 of murder charges for the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned tourist hotel near Mombasa which killed more than 12 people. In conjunction with that attack, two surface-to-air missiles were fired at an Israeli-owned airliner packed with Israeli tourists as it took off from Mombasa. The missiles narrowly missed.

Prosecutors at the trial said Mohammed had been in contact with Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Al Qaeda's East Africa head, who the US said masterminded the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 231 people, including 12 Americans. A Somali soldier shot the Al Qaeda leader dead at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia, last year.