Youths Burn Church, Riot in Kenya’s Mombasa after Imam Killed
Nairobi – Young Muslims set fire to a church, burned tires and clashed with police in Kenya’s main port city of Mombasa on Friday, after the killing of an Islamic cleric his followers blamed on security forces. Sheikh Ibrahim Omar’s death ignited religious tensions in the commercial and tourism hub in east Africa’s largest economy, two weeks after Islamist militants killed at least 67 people in a raid on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall.
The imam was shot dead in Mombasa on Thursday night, police said. He preached at a mosque that has in the past been linked to the Somali al Shabaab Islamists who claimed responsibility for the shopping center attack. Omar was found dead in a car hit by more than a dozen bullets, television images showed.
Youths torched a Salvation Army church and temporarily blocked the main road into the city, a Reuters witness said. Kenyan police in riot gear fired gunshots and teargas to break up the crowd. The worst of the running battles with police took place in Mombasa’s downtrodden Saba Saba neighborhood, where traders shuttered their shops and residents fled for safety. “We are trying to deal with some youths who have started bringing trouble within town,” Robert Kitur, Mombasa county police chief, told Reuters. “They are few. We will contain them.” (Reuters)