Friday, 31 August 2012
Kenya beefs up security in Nairobi and Mombasa to avert protests
Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police on Friday enhanced security in key installations in Nairobi and Mombasa to avert planned protests following the death of Islamic cleric in Mombasa early this week.
The move follows credible intelligence reports which urged Muslim community in Kenya to come out in large numbers after Friday prayers to demonstrate along the Nairobi and Mombasa streets to protest the assassination of Aboud Rogo whom the UN and U.S. accused of financing Al-Shabaab militia from Somalia. The alert from sources working at the United Nations in Nairobi cautioned its staff to keep off several places and key highways and roads and areas around the mosques in Nairobi and in Kibera slums where most of the Muslims community reside including central business district. "Because the specific nature of the protests is unknown, militant groups and thugs may take advantage of the situation," reads the alert. "These protests are also likely to turn violent, characterized by running battles between rioters and police, looting, grenade attacks, muggings, burning and damaging of vehicles/property, general business disruptions and heavy traffic snarl ups as has been witnessed in Mombasa over the last three days," it said. "You are advised to avoid Nairobi CBD and above mentioned Mosques and surrounding areas tomorrow - Friday 31st August 2012. If possible, please postpone any business you have in the CBD to another day."
Regional deputy police commander, Moses Ombati, said security forces were about some youth who have been to cause chaos in Nairobi and its environs but were ready to deal with the situation."We are aware of some pockets of Muslim youth who want to cause trouble in Nairobi and its environs but we are ready to counter with equal force," Ombati told Xinhua on Friday. In Mombasa, residents and workers said many businesses have been advised to close their officers by noon for fear of further protests. "We have been advised by our employers to close offices by 12: 00 noon today for fear of looting and destruction of property," an employee who works for a shipping company told Xinhua. "There are many security forces who have been deployed around the mosques and I don't think there will be more trouble like that ones were experienced on Monday and Tuesday," said the employee who did not want to be identified.
The controversial Islamic preacher, Aboud Rogo who was facing charges of illegal possession of weapons and recruiting for the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab, was shot to death in his car on Monday while he was driving outside Mombasa. Violent riots erupted across the Mombasa town center and continued on Tuesday immediately after his burial on Monday afternoon. Cars were set alight, several churches were vandalized, and at least 4 people have so far been killed. Police have since arraigned 24 people in court charged in connection with the riots.
The authorities on Wednesday arraigned in court 24 youth who were arrested during the two days of violent demonstration in Mombasa that brought business in the tourist resort city to a standstill. Majengo area believed to be strong hold of murdered Muslim cleric was put under curfew on Thursday as contingent of police officers camped the area since Wednesday night to ensure law and order is followed. The police have also issued a high alert over possible chaos on Friday in all major towns including Nairobi and Mombasa following the killing of Muslim Cleric Aboud Rogo.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said although they expect Muslims to hold peaceful demonstrations, they will not overlook things since criminals are likely to take advantage of the current situation. He said the Muslim have right to demonstrate but must notify police in advance and ensure the maintain law and order. Muslims are planning to use the Friday prayers and hold street protest in Major cities with fears that they might turn violent. The police in Mombasa said they have not been notified about any planned protest on Friday and were prepared to deal with any eventuality should the situation turn violent.
However, a statement from one of the mosques in Nairobi denied that Muslims were planned protests on Friday and called on members of the public to treat it as rumours. "In reference to security alerts in circulation, Jamia Mosque Committee wishes to inform all Kenyans that there is no demonstration called at the mosque before and after Friday Prayers to protest the killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo," the Committee said in a statement on Friday. "As per our knowledge, no Muslim leader has also called for protests at any mosque in Nairobi, Mombasa or any other part of the country."
The statement said the mosque has also enhanced security around the premises to prevent criminal groups from taking advantage of the situation to indulge in activities which will break the law and threaten the existing peace. The move comes as hundreds of Kenyan security forces in plain clothes were suddenly deployed in strategic places amid concerns the Islamist Al-Shabaab militia might take advantage of the protests to carry out fresh attack. The police have appealed to Kenyans to be extra alert and to take positively the heightened security measures being undertaken by the police in Nairobi. Some police officers patrolling major streets in Nairobi told Xinhua on Friday that security is being stepped up in all hotels, key buildings and restaurants, particularly along the border with neighboring Somalia where al Qaeda-linked fighters are waging an insurgency to avert reprisals. (Xinhua)