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Killing of Muslim cleric sparks riot in Kenya

Wednesday, August 29, 2012    

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MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — Rioting in Kenya's second-largest city over the killing of a radical Islamic cleric extended into a second day yesterday as police fought running battles with youths and one man died when a grenade was hurled into a truck carrying security forces.

Several people were seriously injured in yesterday's clashes in Mombasa, police and human rights officials said.

The rioting was in response to the killing Monday of Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a man linked to a terrorist group by Washington who was shot to death as he drove in his car with his family. Human rights groups say the killing fits a pattern of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of suspected terrorists that are allegedly being orchestrated by Kenyan police. But police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said that no police officers were involved in Mohammed's death.

It has brought to the surface tensions in this port city established centuries ago by Muslim traders from the Arabian peninsula, now home to hundreds of thousands of people of Arab descent and a large Somali population.

A prison guard was killed when a hand grenade was hurled into a truck carrying security forces sent to quell the riots, said regional police chief Aggrey Adoli. At least 13 police and security officials were seriously wounded, he said.

Adoli said police were forced to keep violent protests from spreading after they led to the death of one person and the vandalism of two Christian churches and businesses on Monday.

"We are trying to contain them so that we don't create more deaths. Deaths and destruction of property will not help with anything," Adoli said.

Hussein Khalid of the Muslim for Human Rights group said police were using tear gas against stone-throwing protesters. Khalid said one person was stabbed and hospitalised yesterday. Police have asked Muslim elders and religious leaders to urge the young protesters to stop the violence, Adoli said.

The violence prompted Australia to issue an advisory asking its citizens in Mombasa to avoid public gatherings and monitor the media, saying the civil unrest is likely to continue: "We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya overall at this time due to the high risk of terrorist attack, civil unrest and high crime levels in the country."

Keriako Tobiko, Kenya's director of Public Prosecutions, has formed a team to investigate the murder of Mohammed made up of members of the police, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the Lawyers Society of Kenya and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.

The team is expected to "conduct, comprehensive, independent and expeditious investigation into the murder with a view of apprehending and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the crime", said Keriako. It is expected to finish its work in 14 days.

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