A prison warder was killed and 14 other security officers injured as the violence triggered by the killing of Al-Shabaab suspect Aboud Rogo continued for the second day Tuesday.
The riots spread across Mombasa town with mayhem reported in Mwandoni, Bakarani and Bamburi, all in Kisauni, and in Majengo and King’orani areas on the island.
The warder and 13 of his colleagues were in a vehicle that was attacked with a grenade as they rushed in to quell the riots.
The other officers, from the General Service Unit, were injured in battles at Majengo and King’orani.
On Tuesday, a high level team comprising officers from the government and independent agencies was set up to investigate the killing of Sheikh Rogo.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Keriako Tobiko, appointed assistant deputy DPP Jacob Ondari to coordinate the team that includes representatives from the Independent Police Oversight Authority, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the Law Society of Kenya, the Commission on Administration of Justice and the police. (READ: DPP Tobiko orders joint probe into Rogo killing)
As the riots in Mombasa continued, leaders across the political divide called for calm.
They included Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Mvita MP Najib Balala. In Parliament, MPs demanded that details of the killing of Sheikh Rogo be revealed to the public.
They also want a report on why the police had not arrested any culprits despite the crime having been committed in “broad daylight”. (READ: MPs want details of cleric's killing made public)
Sheikh Rogo had been named by the United Nations and United States as Al-Shabaab’s chief agent in Kenya, recruiting fighters for the Somali militant group and raising funds.
Eleven of the injured security officers were treated at Jocham Hospital. Two others were referred to Coast General Hospital where the body of the one who was killed was also taken.
The policemen were in a contingent heading to counter marauding youths who had set ablaze Kisauni Presbyterian Church. But as they approached the church compound at Mwandoni, the gang confronted them and a gun-fight ensued.
It is during the fight that one of the rioters hurled a grenade at the police vehicle. A police officer who talked to the Nation at Jocham Hospital said: “One officer is dead, while two are at Coast General Hospital. The rest of the injured are here.”
A witness said: “I saw the police vehicle being hit by the grenade. Two police officers fell down with blood all over.”
Tension reigned in Kisauni, which was virtually inaccessible after the rioters barricaded the main road using burning tyres.
A lorry-load of General Service Unit officers later sent to the area had to use a detour through Mishomoroni in a bid to access Mwandoni which was the epicentre of Tuesday’s clashes.
Mr Sadique Kakai, Kenya Red Cross officer in charge of disaster in the Coast region described the situation as “really bad”.
“We are even unable to access the hard-hit areas to help those who are injured. The rioters are even turning against us,” he told the Nation by phone.
The battles had earlier been confined to the town, but spread to residential estates after police secured the town centre.
The chaos intensified even as Coast provincial commissioner Samuel Kilele warned that the security forces would deal decisively with its perpetrators.
Mr Kilele, speaking after meeting inter-faith council of preachers in his office, said those causing riots were criminals.
“Criminal gangs are taking advantage of this violence to cause mayhem, damage property and steal from people,” he said, adding that stringent measures had been put in place to ensure normality returned to the island and elsewhere.
The violence, he said, might adversely affect the Mombasa International Agricultural Society of Kenya show, which starts on Wednesday.
Provincial police boss Aggrey Adoli said a team of senior officers from the CID had been sent to Mombasa to assist in investigating the Rogo murder.
Police, he said, had arrested a number of people who they were sorting out based on evidence at hand. He said officers would use ‘‘minimal” force to quell the chaos.
“We cannot allow rogue youths to spoil the party for everybody just because they are mourning,” he said. To contain the current situation, Mr Adoli said more policemen had been sent to the affected areas.
Police arrested 13 youths suspected to have been involved in the chaos around Mwembe Tanganyika and Majengo ya Musa estates.
The officers were around the two estates to contain the youths who lit tyres on Shariff Nassir Road, disrupting transport around Majengo and King’orani.
Police also cordoned off the Mombasa Pentecostal Church among other churches within Mombasa Island after receiving information that some youths were planning to burn them down.
Reports by Bozo Jenje, Mwakera Mwajefa, Galgalo Bocha, Winnie Atieno, Anthony Kitimo and Mark Agutu