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Death toll rises as suspects charged after Mombasa Mosque violence

By Standard Team
Updated Tuesday, February 4th 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By Standard Team

MOMBASA, KENYA: As 125 suspects captured in Sunday’s violence were hauled to the court on Monday,  The Standard has established that no less than six militant youths could have been killed in the storming of the controversial Musa Mosque.

The government has though only acknowledged just two deaths.

One of the dead was a male youth from Kwale or Mombasa who police and independent accounts indicate was shot at close range after he had stabbed and wrested away a G-3 rifle from a police during the storming of the mosque.

“One civilian who wrested a gun from the police officer who was injured was shot and killed,”said Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa  who claimed that “one other civilian died from unknown causes as he claimed that police “who camped outside the mosque since 10.30 am decided to storm only after they were fired on from inside the mosque. These people were prepared for war.”

Hussein Khalid, the Executive Director of Haki Africa  human rights group told The Standard that four bodies of youths identified as Salim Khamis Salim from Kinango and Ramadhan Ahmed Salim from Mombasa were recovered at the Coast General Hospital. Khalid alleged that these and two other unidentified bodies bore bullet injuries sustained in shooting at the mosque.

It was not clear it was Ramadhan or Khamis who was killed trying to steal the gun in the mosque.  Khalid claimed he had received reports two bodies from the violence were buried on Sunday night after being removed from the Coast General Hospital morgue.

On Monday police held four suspects captured from the mosque under armed guard at the Coast General Hospital as they applied at Shanzu Law Courts to detain the 125, including three women for five days to enable detectives complete investigations to level terrorist charges, take their DNA samples for filing and complete prosecution documents

Although government officials were cagey on why it allowed a convention it had outlawed to take place on Sunday,  The Standard has also learnt that the Mombasa County Security Committee hatched a meticulous plan to lure wanted Al Shabaab and Al Qaida suspects into a trap at the mosque.

And we have also established that all the detainees will be profiled for links to extremist groups and that all aged 15 years and above will be charged.

Although most officials on the committee favored preventing the now ill fated Jihad Convention from taking place, the Anti-Terror Police Unit ATPU, which brought the suspects to court on Monday convinced the committee to allow it to proceed anticipating that known hardcore jihadists would attend it.

Save for one militant who fled after being detained, intelligence sources told The Standard that “this was one of the most successful operations launched by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit because Al Shabaab made a great mistake by congregating in one place at the same time and now we have captured them,” said a top security official who asked not to be named.

Meanwhile militant sources admitted major loses admitting that “one of our biggest blunders on that day was that we did not expect police to storm the mosque.”

These claims were bolstered by the fact that early yesterday a thick security cordon was thrown around Makupa police station in Mombasa where many of the suspects were believed held after police received intelligence reports that armed militants were planning an operation to free captured militants. One of those detained is a brother of a Kenyan al Shabaab weapons trainer based in Somalia, according to police sources

At the courts the magistrate allowed a police application to extend the suspects’ detention  as their identities began to unravel.

Mombasa Senior Resident Magistrate Mr James Omburah  allowed  the police to  carry DNA test on 129 adding that he was satisfied with the police’s application and will listen to matter again on February 7.

“I have carefully listened to the police’s application in which they say the security of the state is at stake. They say the investigation is also not complete” said Omburah as the suspects chanted Allah Akbar or God is Greatest.

Corporal Simon Simiyu told the magistrates that  he was investigating the suspects for serious crimes related to being members of Al Shabaab group.

Among those being investigated are three women arrested in mosque and two are held with children below two years. Others in detention include a 17-year  form three student at Aldina Visram, Ali Salim Mohamed, Sadiq Philip Ndure, Hassan Ali , Said Bozen Mohamed,  Issa Ochieng, Moses Kipkoech  Kosgey and a clerk at Balala and Abeid Advocates.

Some of the suspects wore  T Shirt  with writings Stick to  Sunah Nusa while others had head  red white  chequered  scarfs and conducted prayers in the court. They defiantly vowed to return to the mosque to “fight for our rights

As they were waiting for the police’s application Abdul Rashid led them in prayers as they blamed the police for infringing on the rights.

Unconfirmed report reports indicate that at least six people remain unaccounted  as Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir led some Muslim leaders in condemning police for storming “a holy place in shoes.”

The Senator condemned violence on both sides calling for calm but argued the attack on the mosque will inflame Muslim passions and escalate radicalism.

However Sheikh Juma Ngao, the chairman of the Kenya National Muslim Advisory Council condemned the storming of the mosque but accused militants of provoking  a police invasion by firing from in the mosque.

Willis Oketch, Philip Mwakio, Ben Sanga, Stanley Mwahanga, Patrick Beja and Ishaq Jumbe contributed to this story

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