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Questions abound dramatic arrests at Mombasa

Anti-terror officers gathering evidence collected at the scene. [Courtesy]

Police yesterday described two men arrested in the full glare of publicity at the Likoni ferry as "a criminal gang."

The Caucasian men were arrested at the Likoni mainland when they tried to enter the ferry to cross to the island. A woman who was with them escaped.

Security officers remained tight-lipped about the operation. The Standard, however, established that the suspects were arrested by officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) and the military.

"They were suspected criminal gangs," said Coast Regional Police Commander Manase Musyoka.

A senior police officer in Likoni said the Defense Military Intelligence (DMI) led the operation. He said the two were whisked away to a military interrogation site in Mombasa.

Security agents at the Coast have been on higher alert following intelligence of a planned terror attack to commemorate the death of the late Sheikh Aboud Rogo.

Rogo, hailed by Islamist extremists at the Coast as a martyr, was killed in Mombasa on August 27, 2012. Police accused him of funding and recruiting fighters for the Al-Shabaab.

Mr Abdulhakim Salim Sagar, a cousin to Hanniya Sagar, the wife of Rogo, was arrested on Wednesday at Mlango wa Papa in Old Town.

In a clip recorded by the eyewitness, Salim, 40, was dragged into a waiting double cabin pick-up before being driven away. Mr Musyoka said he was being interrogated.

"He was arrested by people believed to be police officers after Maghrib prayers," said Francis Auma, Response Officer at Muhuri.

Salim was arrested in 2018 and charged with accounts of possessing terrorist materials. His case is set for hearing on December 9.

On August 5, an Egyptian, two Somali nationals and a Kenya were arrested in Mazeras, Kilifi on their way to Mombasa. Police linked them to a terror group with a connection to Somalia, Egypt, Uganda and Kenya.

In an affidavit produced in court on August 11, an ATPU officer said a suspect, who was with the four, fled with a booby-trapped car. It is not clear whether the police recovered the car.

Dramatic arrest

Yesterday, sources who sought anonymity said a suspect in police custody tipped the officers about the two men arrested at the ferry.

During the arrest, the police shot three times in the air near the ferry ramp in the southern mainland and ordered suspects to surrender.

An eyewitness said the suspects did not resist and that they surrendered immediately after their car was surrounded.

A water vendor Benga Nganzi Benga said police took the public by surprise when they shot in the air as others pointed the gun towards the locals waiting to board the ferry.

"It was like a movie. We even thought it was a drill because the media was also near the vehicle," said Benga, adding that the suspects come out of the car with their faces covered.

Benga said the Probox car that the suspects were in was parked near his kiosks.

"I ran away as the police searched the vehicles because I thought the car had a bomb," said Benga.

During the search, police said they recovered two AK-47 from the vehicle and a pistol from a young man seated at the back.

"A woman was seated in the front seat, and she is the one who paid the toll fee for the vehicle. She disappeared from the scene during the dramatic arrest of the suspects," he said.

A senior police officer, who did not want to be quoted, confirmed that two could be "suspected terrorists" linked to a man arrested on Friday at Mlango wa Papa in Old Town.

According to Benga, the incident took place at around 10.45 am and lasted for about 20 minutes.

The Probox car was later driven away to an unknown destination.

Likoni police boss Joseph Karanja said he was not in a position to comment on the incident.

“I went to the scene, but I cannot comment about it because it is not under my jurisdiction,” said Karanja.

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