Protesting youths smashed motor vehicles, looted shops and attacked four churches in Mombasa after gunmen killed Al-Shabaab suspect Sheikh Aboud Rogo on Monday.
The fiery madrassa teacher, named by the United Nations and the US as Al-Shabaab’s chief agent in Kenya, was shot near Bamburi on the Mombasa-Malindi highway as he drove his wife to hospital.
His wife sustained gunshot wounds in the legs. Her father, Mr Abdhallah Ali, who was also in the 14-seater van, suffered slight injuries but the couple’s eight-year-old daughter was unhurt.
Scores of irate youths in Sheikh Rogo’s funeral procession looted Jesus Celebration Centre and Neno Evangelism Centre, vandalised Ziwani SDA and petrol-bombed Pentecostal Assemblies of God churches all in Buxton area.
Sheikh Rogo was buried at Manyimbo Muslim Cemetery in Tudor.
The protesting youths burnt tyres outside Msikiti Musa, Majengo Market and along the Buxton-Nyali road where they harassed motorists and pedestrians. During the mayhem one person was stoned to death.
Earlier at Msikiti Musa, where Sheikh Rogo regularly attended evening prayers, the youths burnt a government van that had slowed down at a road bump and raided a Salvation Army Church.
The fate of the driver and passengers could not be established. The mobs barricaded a section of King’orani road between the Kenya Railway Station and Mewa Hospital junction.
The violence erupted shortly after Sheikh Rogo’s body was buried.
Sheikh Rogo, who ran a madrassa in Kilifi, was facing terror-related charges in court. He has been linked to Somalia’s Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda groups by both Kenyan and US authorities.
Last month, the US accused him, together with Eritrean intelligence and military officials, of fund raising for Al-Shabaab. A UN report said he provided “financial, material, logistical or technical support to Al-Shabaab”.
He was the “main ideological leader” of the Muslim Youth Centre in Pumwani, Nairobi, the report added.
Sheikh Rogo “used the extremist group as a pathway for radicalisation and recruitment of principally Kiswahili-speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant activity in Somalia,” the UN said.
Kenya had also accused him of recruiting youths at the Coast to fight for the rebel group in Somalia where the Kenya Defence Forces have deployed as part of an African Union stabilisation force. (Read: Cleric ‘was plotting attacks’ in Mombasa)
In the wake of the 2002 terror attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Sheikh Rogo was charged but acquitted for lack of evidence.
He died instantly after a vehicle that was trailing him suddenly pulled next to him near the Pirates Public Beach and its occupants sprayed his van with bullets.
The preacher’s wife, Haniya Said Sagal, immediately pointed a finger at the police. A shaken Ms Sagal said police had been trailing her husband and were behind an attempt to abduct him in Nairobi two weeks ago where he was to attend court in an illegal weapons possession charge.
“Why do the police kill my husband in broad daylight?” she asked.
When police officers arrived at the scene, Ms Sagal refused their offer to take her to hospital. “I don’t need your help. You have killed my husband, now leave us alone,” she shouted.
Angry youths blocked the officers from collecting Sheikh Rogo’s body. Instead, they took it to Manyimbo cemetery for burial. They stoned a man to death near the cemetery and damaged four parked vehicles before disappearing into the sprawling Sparki Village.
The Daily Nation’s photographer Laban Walloga was rescued from a club-wielding youth who wanted all the pictures he had taken deleted.
The Majengo/King’orani/Sabasaba areas were no-go zones as armed youths blocked roads and engaged police in running battles. Public transport on Mombasa Island was grounded with matatu operators withdrawing their vehicles.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga appealed to Mombasa residents to exercise restraint as the killing is investigated.
“I appeal to our people not to use this sad act to inflict more pain and suffering on our country. Let us come together in calm instead and join hands in order to get to the bottom of the murder,” said Mr Odinga.
The government, he said, was committed to bringing the culprits to book.
“It is even more shocking that Sheikh Rogo was killed while taking his sick wife to hospital,” said Mr Odinga.
Muslim Human Rights Forum asked the government to set up an inquiry into the killing.
Reports by Mwakera Mwajefa, Bozo Jenje, Caleb Mutua, Winnie Atieno and Daniel Nyassy