Violent riots hit Kenya after Muslim cleric is shot dead
Hundreds of protesters 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 Islamist militants in Somalia.
One protester was killed in the riots which erupted after Aboud Rogo Mohammed was shot on Monday, as youths from the port city’s large Muslim population took to the streets saying he had been deliberately targeted by police.
“It’s an attack on Muslims, and we will not take it lightly,” said Suleiman Atham, one of the protesters.
Police denied having any involvement in the shooting which wounded Rogo’s wife.
Deputy police chief Robert Kitur said Rogo - who faced terrorism charges over allegations he was recruiting non-Somali Africans for Somalia’s al Shabaab militant group - 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. They vandalised at least four other churches, breaking chairs and damaging an altar.
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 in Arabic, 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. (...)