Gunmen kill cleric and elderly man in Kwale

Wednesday March 18 2020
SONPIC

A gun. Two people were killed by gunmen in Ukunda, Kwale County, on Wednesday. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FADHILI FREDRICK

Two people including an Imam were on Wednesday night shot dead by unknown assailants at Kilolapwa and Shamu villages in Ukunda, Kwale County, in attacks suspected to be linked to terrorism or politics.

The imam, Ali Hassan Chisuse, 58, was shot three times as he closed the door of Masjid Irshad mosque at around 8 pm, while Mwinyi Pataka, 70, was killed in his house in Shamu by assailants who got away on a motorcycle.

Mr Chisuse was the chairman of the mosque and oversaw its day to day operations. He was also the chief campaigner and mobiliser for one of the gubernatorial aspirants in the 2017 election.

ANTI-SHABAAB

The coordinated attacks happened within a span of 30 minutes, leading police to suspect they could have been carried out by the same assailants.

Msambweni OCPD Joseph Chebusit said it was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks but police have launched investigations. The gunmen fled after the shooting that stunned locals.

Nothing was stolen from the victims and police say that the motive of the killing is yet to be established.

However, a reliable source revealed that there is a high possibility that the assailants were members of the Al-Shabaab terror group, who were hired to carry out the attacks on individuals seen as hindering the militants activities.

"I have interacted with Chisuse and he was a devoted Muslim who openly opposed youth radicalisation," the source said, adding that the deceased involved himself in development programmes in the community like contributing to the construction of mosques and madrassas.

TERROR ATTACKS

The source further added that the imam could have either been a target of the terrorists for his stand on radicalisation, or a target of the police for unknown reasons.

The source said Al-Shabaab group has established a vibrant intelligence network within local communities where they get information to help in planned attacks.

The bodies were taken to Msambweni County Referral Hospital mortuary as family members organise for burials.

Kwale has been listed among the counties with high numbers of youth who had been radicalised and joined Al-Shabaab, with some returning after finding life difficult in Somalia.

In an interview with the Nation, Mr Hassan Chisuse, the first born of the imam, said his slain father was usually the last person to leave the mosque.