Some 300 people were arrested in a night-long swoop by police within Mombasa Island over the weekend.
Security forces stepped up their operations against terror insurgents following recent grenade attacks.
A grenade placed between Jesus Healing and Miracle Ministries Church and Malandini estate at Tononoka area sparked a police raid within Majengo, Bondeni and Ganjoni areas suspected to be used by insurgents as hideouts.
The Saturday night swoop came in the wake of Thursday’s grenade attack along Biashara Street that saw a police officer escape with serious injuries after it was hurled at him by people who wanted to free an arrested accomplice.
THRONGED POLICE STATION
Sunday, anxious parents and relatives thronged the Central Police Station and Makupa Police Station in search of their loved ones after who were arrested during the impromptu police raids that also targeted popular nightspots.
When Nation.co.ke arrived at the Central Police Station, close associates of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho were seen urging police to release the suspects. However, it could not immediately be established under what conditions they wanted them released.
“These are governor’s people who have come in three vehicles to seek the release of those arrested during the police swoops and they have vowed to make sure all of them are released before midday,” said a source that spoke on condition of anonymity.
Contacted on phone, the Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa confirmed the police swoops saying they were meant to clear the targeted areas of criminal elements that use them as hideouts.
“Our Saturday night swoop netted two prime suspects whom we are currently interrogating and we are hoping to make a major breakthrough on recent attacks,” he said.
Without giving further details, Mr Marwa issued a stern warning to local youths and people being used to perpetrate violence that their days were numbered.
However, the swoops have attracted criticisms from a cross-section of people including those arrested.
ELDERS CRITICISE SWOOP
A village elder from Bibi wa Shufi, Mzee Mohamed Omar criticised the police for not involving them before conducting the raids.
“We held a meeting with the government administration last month at Kiziwi and resolved that in all subsequent police swoops the village elders should be fully involved because we know those who are criminals and those who are not,” he said.
The elder claimed police had arrested innocent youth and people with identity cards warning that such operations only ended straining the relationship between the police and the public.
Mr Abdulmajid Salim said his wife was arrested while attending a wedding ceremony at Sargoi near Mwembe Tayari.
“My wife called me at 9am saying she had been arrested with others in a police swoop at a wedding party. They also arrested the groom and bride all of whom had national identity cards,” he complained.
Mr Ali Awadh Said from Hindi in Lamu County said he was attending the wedding celebration when police raided the venue between 4.30am and 5am “and loaded everybody into Lorries”.
Mrs Jackline Amondi said her husband Mr Gilbert Odhiambo who works at Salambo Night Club was arrested as he went home to Magongo at 5.30pm.
“He had not arrived home by 8am which is unusual. He later called me to say he was at the police station,” she said.
Mzee Tahir Omar Babnun urged security officers “to go after the criminals” and stop harassing innocent women and children.
“Police should target the criminals and not everybody. People had their IDs, some are school children and others are elderly women and generally, innocent people. They should stop harassing innocent people,” he said during an interview with Nation.co.ke.
Most of the recent terror attacks were concentrated around the central business district (CBD) areas of Mwembe Tayari, Mwembe Kuku and Tononoka that are frequented by many people mainly for business.