ONE man died and several others were injured during riots sparked off by the shooting of controversial Islamic cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed in Mombasa yesterday.
The dead man, artisan Joseph Mureithi, was hit by a metal rod by rioting youths at Saba Saba near the Masjid Musa mosque where Rogo had set up his base. Four churches were vandalised - Neno Evangelist Centre, JCC at Buxton, PAG Ziwani, and another one.
Rogo, his wife Khaniya Said Sagaar, his father Abdallah Ali, his five year old daughter Salha and a male relative were driving in a van from Kikambala towards town. Just before midday their vehicle was shot at by unknown people near the entrance to the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach along the Mombasa-Malindi highway and very close to Bamburi police station.
A Star photographer was close to the scene of the killing. Aboud Rogo was driving and was shot at least 14 times in chest. He lost control of the vehicle which landed in a ditch. His wife was shot in the right leg and was writhing in pain. Their daughter wailed for her father as she tried to crawl to where her mother was lying.
Police arrived soon afterwards and sealed off the scene Rogo's wife refused any assistance from the police. "Ni nyinyi mapolisi mmemua. Hatutaki postmortem wala usaidizi wenyu ( It is you policemen who have killed him! we don't want a post-mortem or any help from you)," screamed Khaniya.
Police said 15 gun shots were fired from close range at the driver's door. The bullets were 7.6mm calibre used by AK 47,said Mombasa DCIO Benedict Kigen. Members of Muslims for Human Rights arrived within minutes, took Rogo's body and buried him at Kiziwi Muslim cemetery. They also took Khaniya to hospital for treatment of her gunshot wound. The vehicle was towed to the Bamburi police station.
Khaniya said her husband was taking her to hospital for a check up after she suffered a miscarriage two weeks ago. As the news spread, hundreds of youths took to the street and chaos broke out on Mombasa island including Posta, Kongowea, Majengo and Saba Saba. Angry youth carrying branches and stones vandalized bars, petrol stations and houses as they chanted Allahu Akbar.
The rioting youth broke into shops, looted property and beat up people. They pelted motorists with stones and lit bonfires using tyres and other debris. Riot police and the GSU were deployed to disperse the youth who spread out to Bamburi and Kisauni. At Mewa hospital where the injured were taken for treatment, a vehicle belonging to the Muhuri lobby group was pelted with stones by angry relatives and friends who thought it was carrying journalists.
Muhuri executive director Hussein Khalid said his two officers Topister Juma and Shirleen Njeri were injured. "They thought my officers were members of the press. Muslim law prohibits an injured woman be photographed and that is why they chased them away," Khalid said. The police denied that they were responsible for Rogo's shooting.
Coast CID boss Ambrose Munyasia said they were treating the incident as a "shoot and run" incident. Unconfirmed sources said a fleeing man was arrested near the Mombasa Polytechnic by flying squad officers. Earlier this year Rogo claimed that his life was in danger and his lawyer Mureithi Mbugua alleged that police had planted incriminating evidence to implicate his client.
In February, Rogo and Samir Khan were released on bond after being charged with being in possession of 102 bomb detonators, 3 guns and 119 bullets and had been released on bond. The case was to be heard on October 17 before principal magistrate K. Gacheru. Rogo also faced other cases in Nairobi including being a member of Al-Shabaab. In 2005 he was acquitted of involvement in the 2002 Paradise Hotel, Kikambala bomb attack in which 14 people died.
Muslim religious leaders yesterday condemned the killing and demanded that the police arrest those responsible. The Kenya National Muslim advisory council chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao said the police should also establish who murdered Samir Khan whose badly mutilated body was found dumped in Tsavo national park in April just hours after he was abducted from a bus.
"Even if he had mistakes, the matter was in court. Even Osama Bin Laden's allies are being held at Guantanamo bay prison. There are laws in this country and that is the way to go," said Ngao. Sheikh Dor of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya demanded that the police resolve the matter. "They should not take us round in circles this time like they did in the Samir Khan case," he said.