SECURITY in Mombasa was beefed up yesterday in preparation for the arrival of President Kibaki last night.
Kibaki is due to receive Kenya's new Jasiri naval ship today and to open the annual agricultural show on Thursday. Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere issued a terse instruction to security commanders in Mombasa yesterday ordering that the chaos be contained before the arrival of Kibaki.
Yesterday morning 200 elite officers from Recce squad arrived from Ruiri to reinforce a combined force of General Service Unit, regular police and prison warders in Mombasa. Some of the over 1,000 officers despatched last week to Tana Delta to quell the clashes that killed close to 60 people were also being redeployed to Mombasa. Officers on leave have been recalled to reinforce the force.
Yesterday rioting Muslim youth lobbed grenades at police officers killing one and injuring fifteen officers while protesting the assassination of Sheikh Aboud Rogo on Tuesday. There were running battles in Sabasaba, Majengo, King'orani, Mwembe Tayari and Makupa causeway in the morning. A petrol station was set on fire and one person seriously injured.
By midday, the violence had spread to the North Coast with tension rising in parts of Kisauni, Mwandoni, Bakarani, Barsheba and Lights areas. Muslim youths torched a PCEA church in Kishad ground in Mwandoni. Sixteen regular police and prisoner warders who went to secure the church at Mwandoni and a grenade was thrown into their lorry as they were alighting.
Provincial Police Officer Aggrey Adoli confirmed that a prison warder was killed and 15 officers admitted at Jocham and Coast general hospitals with serious injuries. The Kenya Defence Force chief Gen Julius Karangi is also in Mombasa for the launch of Jasiri this morning. The Mombasa ASK show will be at Mkomani near Nyali.
Adoli said hotels, churches, Mombasa port and Moi International Airport have been secured. Adoli said the Provincial Security Committee would sit and deliberate on the possibility of a curfew in Kisauni. "The situation as it is now does not warrant a curfew, but if things change, we shall have to think about that. It is only the chairman of the committee who can make such a decision after consultations," Adoli said.
"We shall still continue with the operation to make Mombasa safe, so that we can rout out all this bad elements. We have realised these are not normal criminals," said Adoli. "The world has known they are terrorists bent to destroy our economy, not people with good motives. We appeal to members of the public to be patient," he said and advised the public to call police hotlines in case of an emergency.
Yesterday, Iteere defended police against claims that the force killed Sheikh Rogo. "We as police are condemning Rogo's death but it is annoying to hear people accuse the police of being behind the shooting. I have spoken to my officers in Mombasa and they have all told me that they were not in any way involved," the police boss said.
The violence also provoked Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko to direct a joint investigation to probe the killing and prosecute the killers. The team will be led by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Jacob Ondari. It will have members from Law Society of Kenya, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Administration of Justice, and the Independent Police Oversight Authority. Tobiko gave the team 14 days to do their investigations.
Mwandoni, where the PCEA church was torch is in Kisauni constituency whose MP Hassan Joho yesterday said some youths are now taking advantage of the situation to commit crime. "These people are not mourning Rogo. They are taking advantage of the situation," said Kisauni MP Hassan Ali Joho. Michael Kinja, a cameraman from CCTV, was roughed up by youths in Majengo. His personal effects including mobile phone were stolen.
Reverend Milton Abushiomo said youths destroyed property including 200 chairs, three pairs of choir uniforms, the pulpit and two speakers when they attacked his Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Ziwani yesterday. Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe said the political and religious leadership need to find a way to stop the violence.