13 January 2018

Kenya: Youths Burn Property, Loot As They Protest Sheikh's Arrest

Photo: Nation
Police arrest Sheikh Guyo in Marsabit Town on January 13, 2018.

Property of unknown value was destroyed in Marsabit Town while two people were killed on Saturday after youth demonstrated following the arrest of a local sheikh by the Anti-Terrorism Police.

Sheikh Guyo Gorsa was arrested in the town centre and the youth, most of whom were his madrassa students, followed the sheikh and officers to the police station. But officers later drove them out of the police station.

Police sources confirmed that the Anti-Terrorism Police arrested the sheikh.

PROPERTY

As they went away, they destroyed property of KCB Bank and stormed into the Catholic Church, where they broke windows and chairs.

They also beat up and injured the guard at the church.

Police officers engaged in running battles with madrassah students and other youth who joined the protest.

One protester was arrested at the Catholic Church, confirmed Marsabit OCS Charles Mwangi.

The protesters also harassed a journalist who was covering the protests and destroyed his camera.

LOOTED

A spot check by the Nation revealed that more property was destroyed after the youths stormed into people's businesses, looted them and set on fire some buildings and motorcycles.

The Anti-Terrorism Police have not commented on the arrest.

The sheikh was also arrested in 2014 at the Coast over suspicion of radicalising the youth, and was later released. It was alleged that he had links to radical groups.

INJURED

Two people died from injuries sustained in the chaos, confirmed Marsabit Referral Hospital Chief Officer Abshiro Hapicha on Saturday evening.

He added that there were 19 people seeking treatment at the hospital, 13 of whom had bullet wounds.

The Nation had visited the hospital in the afternoon and counted 11 injured.

A police source also said that Turbi OCPD Samuel Mukuusi was roughed up by protesters and plans were underway to airlift him to Meru for specialised treatment.

Six people who were seriously injured have also been referred to Meru Level 5 Hospital for surgery.

AL-SHABAAB

On Saturday, police said the sheikh is linked to a network that recruits youths on behalf of Al-Shabaab.

Sheikh Gorsa was named by suspects who are facing terror charges at a Nairobi court, according to a police source who spoke to the Nation.

"The suspect recruited the youths who were recently arrested on their way to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The youths who were charged in a Nairobi court made confessions and named him as the one who radicalised them before sending them to Somalia," the source added.

The source requested anonymity, saying the situation in Marsabit was still sensitive and volatile.

Additional reporting by Fred Mukinda.

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