August 29, 2012
Kenyan police said Wednesday morning (August 29th) that calm had been restored in Mombasa after the killing of Islamist cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed on Monday sparked violent protests in the port city.
For two days, protestors vandalised churches, torched vehicles and demonstrated in the streets. One civilian was hacked to death on Monday while three police officers were killed and a dozen were injured when protestors threw a grenade a police truck on Tuesday.
"We do not have any problems this morning.... Even public transport is back to normal business and shops have been opened," Coast Province Police Chief Aggrey Adoli said according to AFP. "We have made adequate deployment for street patrols to maintain peace."
Adoli told Sabahi that at least 14 civilians and 12 police officers were injured in the clashes. He said at least two journalists were among the injured as protesters turned their anger on reporters.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to contain the violence and restore calm to the city.
Adoli said 24 people had been arrested in connection with the protests. "Some people are taking advantage of the protest to loot, but we are conducting ourselves with restraint to restore normalcy," he told Sabahi.
The suspects were charged on Wednesday with unlawful assembly and riot, according to Senior Resident Magistrate Elvis Michieka. They denied the charges and will remain in detention until September 3rd when their application for bail will be determined.
Mohammed, who was popularly known as Rogo, was considered the "main ideological leader" of Kenya's al-Hijra group, also known as the Muslim Youth Centre, according to the United Nations, which considers the group a close ally of al-Shabaab in Kenya.
He was also on international sanctions lists for "engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia", specifically for recruiting and fundraising for al-Shabaab.
Mohammed was driving with his family when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle at close range, witnesses said.
"The killing of Rogo is unacceptable to the government and I have instructed police to investigate the incident," Prime Minister Raila Odinga told reporters on Tuesday from his office in Nairobi. "As a government, we do not accept wanton murders."
Odinga flew to Mombasa on Wednesday and called on the nation to come together and stop the violence.
"We are not going to allow outside forces to incite Kenyans to create religious war," Odinga said according to AFP.
"We have many political enemies but we want to see coexistence among all the communities living in Mombasa," Odinga said after meeting with religious leaders in the majority Muslim town, which also has a significant Christian population.
Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation into the killing and subsequent riots.
"The killing of Aboud Rogo is a serious crime that needs speedy, independent and impartial investigation," said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "In the meantime, police should continue to stick within the law in confronting the riots sparked by Rogo's death."
"So far the police appear to have exercised admirable restraint in confronting the insecurity in Mombasa," Lefkow said. "Now they need to use precision and intelligence to pursue the people who caused the violence, avoiding indiscriminate actions."
Religious leaders condemned the killing of Rogo and the attacks on churches and businesses by youth protesting the assassination.
Abdulrahman Wandati, executive director of the Muslim Consultative Council, said the protesters are misplacing their anger on churches and other institutions.
"No bona fide Muslim leadership would condone attacks on places of worship and threatening and harming other people. Why the protesters are targeting churches is beyond anyone's comprehension," he told Sabahi.
He said the government should come up with strategies to include clerics in appealing to the protesters as it investigates the killing.
Sheikh Juma Ngao, chairman of the Kenya Muslims National Advisory Council, told Sabahi that attacks on churches is a sacrilege and against the teaching of Islam.
"The Qu'ran clearly forbids attacking churches, synagogues and other places of worship for whatever grievances," he said. "It is haram [forbidden], and if someone wants to do [such acts], those who are near them should stop them."
"Those using Rogo's death to steal and attack churches cannot claim to be Muslims. They are criminals and should be arrested," he said.
"Violent protests over someone who has died will not bring him back and we appeal to the protesters to let the government continue with the investigations," Ngao said.
He said the government should arrest people who want to incite sectarian violence. The government should also make public its findings on who committed the grenade attacks on churches and other public places over the past eight months, he said.
Christian leaders also condemned the violence and the killing of Rogo. They asked their faithful to observe restraint as the government handles the riots.
Reverend Canon Peter Karanja, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), told Sabahi that there has been looting and extensive damages at Jesus Celebration Centre in Buxton, the NCCK office, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church in Ziwani, the Mombasa Pentecostal Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ziwani and the Salvation Army Church in Majengo.
"The NCCK strongly condemns the atrocious and unwarranted attacks on five churches and our own office in Mombasa today, during which innocent worshipers were injured," Karanja said in a statement.
"We have completely failed to understand the logic that made the demonstrators associate the heinous murder of Rogo with the churches and other properties belonging to innocent Kenyans," he said. "We will not allow ourselves to sink into sectarian violence."
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