By David Ochami and Philip Mwakio
Twenty-four young men were charged in Mombasa on Wednesday morning for participating in riots that erupted in protest against Monday’s killing of Muslim cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo.
Rogo, a terrorism suspect who preached jihad or holy war, was a divisive figure even within Islamic circles with string militant support in Mombasa, Lamu and Kilifi. His killing has sparked a wave of rioting that has targeted churches, private property and Government installations.
The twenty-four have been charged with the crimes of unlawful assembly and participating in riots on Tuesday and they will remain in detention until September 3 when they their application for bail will be determined.
Separately, Acting Internal Security minister Yusuf Haji admitted that the violent outrage from the killing had exceeded initial Government estimates but claimed adequate security has been deployed to stem rioting, looting and arson which has brought the Coastal city’s economy to a standstill.
“We did not expect it to degenerate to this level,” said Haji referring to the violence that has consumed a civilian hacked to death by Rogo’s militant supporters in Mombasa town on Monday. The riots have also slain prisons’ officer with a grenade hurled from an apartment block in Kisauni on Tuesday.
As he spoke at the Kenya Navy headquarters in Mtongwe, police swept through Kisauni and Majengo slums, the epicenter of the violence. Officers detained eight young men suspected of involvement in the outbreak of arson and rioting in the militant stronghold.
“We are in control of the situation now,” announced Haji.
Separately, police sources announced the arrival of 200 Flying Squad officers from Nairobi on Tuesday night to be deployed in Kisauni and other trouble spots.
As this happens, Intelligence officials now warn that the rioting could soon give in to new levels of militancy rage as shown by the grenade attack on the security officials.
Police are bracing for battles with rioters and mourners on Friday after prayers when anger is expected to boil into street battles especially in mosques in Changamwe, Kisauni, Likoni and Majengo where the late Rogo often delivered sermons.