Foreigners among Mombasa mosque chaos suspects

Police officers inspect a tuk tuk that was damaged during riots near Musa Mosque Wednesday.  [PHOTO: Gideon Maundu/STANDARD]
By WILLIS OKETCH, NGUMBAO KITHI and PHILIP MWAKIO

MOMBASA, KENYA: The Government has released a list of those captured after police stormed the controversial Musa Mosque in Mombasa, as the official death toll from the violence was revised to four.

It is believed that foreigners may be among the 129 suspects in detention following reports that some entered Kenya from Uganda and Tanzania through Busia last week.

The suspects include three women, Christian converts to Islam, and 21 male youths under 18 years.

Officials say 129 suspects are detained at Shimo la Tewa, although Haki Africa, a human rights group alleges that minors have secretly been moved to the Port Police station.

The list includes a man police believe was in charge of logistics for the ill-fated convention that ended in blood and tears.

On Wednesday youths returning from the burial of a victim of Sunday’s mosque violence attacked police on patrol and descended on motorists in Mombasa’s downtown.

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A local resident was hit on the head with a rock and injured in the violence around Musa mosque.

Local leaders denounced the rioters claiming they were not local Muslims.

Separately, Mombasa police have banned all public gatherings and a meeting called today by a group that sought to debate the Quran and Bible saying such meetings could spark sectarian tension, according to Mombasa urban deputy police chief Tom Okoth.

According to an official involved in the multi-agency investigation, one of the masterminds of the Sunday meeting, Besha Abdulwahab alias Rambo, escaped from the police after capture and is reportedly wounded.

The official told The Standard that detectives and profilers have managed to establish that about a dozen of those arrested came from Eldoret, Kisumu, Busia and Nairobi and that most are recent converts to Islam.

Several sources informed The Standard that most of the estimated 200 people invited by Baysha to the meeting came from Kwale, Kilifi and Taita-Taveta counties with a fraction from Kisauni in Mombasa County.

Multiple sources informed The Standard that the convention was most likely a screen to bring together newly recruited jihadists from alleged Al-Shabaab cells in Eldoret, Kisumu and Busia under Besha’s command.

It was claimed Besha invited the new cell members on the orders of fugitive Kenyan Al-Shabaab cleric Sheikh Ahmed Iman who lives in Somalia and intended to host a second meeting in Nairobi’s Pumwani area before dispatching them to Somalia.

Sheikh Iman, a Kenyan trained engineer, had allegedly ordered Besha to replace recently killed Al-Qaeda marksman Suleiman Mwayuyu, and supply new recruits to smuggle weapons from Somalia through Tanzania.

The death toll from Sunday’s assault on the mosque has risen according to conflicting tallies released by police and rights groups yesterday, following the deaths of captured militants in private and public hospitals in Mombasa.

FABRICATED FIGURES

Mombasa County police commander Robert Kitur announced that “the number we have so far is four who have died,” adding that from police records two victims died in hospital late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Kitur accused human rights groups of fabricating figures to raise the death toll.

Meanwhile, a youthful militant who was hospitalised at the Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa following the Masjid Musa fracas died Wednesday bringing the death toll to nine, rights groups alleged.

According to Haki Africa Executive Director, Hussein Khalid, Fuad Abdalah Ali succumbed to injuries at around 1.15 pm.

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Musa Mosque Besha Abdulwahab alias Rambo