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Four hurt as grenade hurled at police truck

Wednesday August 29 2012

By NATION TEAM [email protected]

Four police officers were on Wednesday night seriously injured in yet another grenade attack in Mombasa.

The four were in a group of seven officers who were patrolling the town when they were attacked at Lebanon on Kenyatta Avenue.

A young man suspected to have been in the group of protesters that threw the grenade was also injured and is in hospital.

Three of the police officers were on Wednesday night scheduled for an operation at Pandya Memorial Hospital.   

Coast Provincial Criminal Investigations boss Amborse Munyasia, while addressing journalists at the scene, denied that there were any deaths as earlier reported, but confirmed that four officers had been injured.

The attack comes on a day when calm was beginning to return to the coastal town following two days of fierce riots by youths protesting against Monday’s killing of Al-Shabaab suspect Sheikh Aboud Rogo. (READ: Tension high in Mombasa in second day of protests)

In court, 24 people were on Wednesday charged with causing the chaos. Acting Internal Security minister Yussuf Haji said they were among 32 arrested by police.

The others are still being questioned. The government also named an 11-member team to investigate Sheikh Rogo’s killing and the subsequent riots in which four people, including three prison warders, have died.

Local leaders moved from house-to-house in the Kisauni urging people to avoid violence. Speaking at Mtongwe Jetty in Mombasa where he had joined the military brass to receive a new warship,  Mr Haji condemned the burning of churches.

“I appeal to all the parents in Mombasa to ask their children to desist from attacking churches and causing mayhem in Mombasa. The government will not condone such behaviour; we will deal with them severely,” he warned.

He called on people to be patient as Sheikh Rogo’s murder was investigated. The minister praised the religious leaders who resisted attempts to turn the chaos into a Christian versus Muslim affair.

Meanwhile, two more prison warders succumbed to injuries sustained in the grenade attack in Kisauni. Eleven others, who were rushed to Jocham Hospital, were in stable condition, according to chief administrator Benjamin Simiyu Wafula.

At the Coast Provincial General Hospital, the chief administrator, Dr David Mwangi, said the officers who died were brought in with multiple injuries. A tuk-tuk driver who was stabbed by the rioters is also admitted and in serious condition.

Dr Mwangi said another police officer wounded in the grenade attack had been transferred to Pandya Memorial Hospital for intensive care. At the Mombasa Law Courts, the 24 suspects were before senior resident magistrate Elvis Michieka.

They denied taking part in unlawful assembly and a riot and were remanded in custody until September 3 when the court will rule on whether they would be freed on bond.

On Wednesday morning, Mombasa residents woke up to a more visible presence of security in the estates and streets.

The heavy deployment came ahead of President Kibaki’s expected arrival in Mombasa later in the evening for the opening of the Mombasa International Show.

In some areas, police conducted house-to-house searches in a day-long operation. Jamia and Masjid mosques, where the youths have been converging to plan the riots, were ringed by armed police.

In Kisauni, MP Hassan Joho, district commissioner Tom Anjere, deputy mayor John Mcharo and other leaders moved door-to-door urging people to maintain peace.

Mr Anjere asked residents to give police information on any stranger visiting the region.

In Nairobi, DPP Keriako Tobiko announced that the investigation team would be led by assistant Commissioner of Police Pius Macharia and would be coordinated by Mr Jacob Ondari of his office.

“In addition to investigating that murder the mandate of the team is broadened to cover all acts of criminality, including the burning of churches, destruction of property and killing of law enforcement officers,” Mr Tobiko said.

The team is expected to present its findings and recommendations in 14 days. Sheikh Rogo, who was adversely mentioned in a United Nations report as a financier of the Somalia terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, was shot dead on the Mombasa-Malindi highway.

As the inquiry team starts its work, various theories are flying as to who could have killed Sheikh Rogo. Whereas his family and the protesting youths have blamed the police, the investigators will cast their net wider.

Police have denied responsibility and instead suggested that infighting within Al-Shabaab may have led to the killing.

Those who knew him suspect that the real sponsors of Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda activities in Kenya might have been behind his killing following his recent blacklisting by the US for fear of him spilling the beans.