, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – The Kenyan government now says members of Somalia’s militant Al-Shabaab group were involved in Friday afternoon’s protest, that left at least five people dead.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said there were people waving placards belonging to the group and they may have taken advantage of the situation to cause mayhem.
He said that an inquiry will be set up “to thoroughly investigate the violence and stern action taken against those involved.”
He added: “We know that there are elements sympathetic to the Al-Shabaab and there may be some of them around here. We were watching very carefully since we knew that they wanted to create problems.”
“They wanted to create problems but our own people were on the alert and did the best they could. Those elements had planned much bigger mayhem than what you saw yesterday,” Prof Saitoti pointed out.
On Tuesday, January 12, the chairman of the Muslim For Human Rights (MUHURI) lobby applied for a permit at the Central Police Station to hold a demonstration against the government’s decision to deport Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah Al-Faisal.
Prof Saitoti said that Intelligence information received had indicated that the demonstration would be infiltrated by people sympathetic to the Al-Shabaab, forcing the police to outlaw it.
He termed it unfortunate that the advice was not heeded and said that this led to the degeneration of the whole situation.
Among those who were killed were two victims who were taken to a clinic near the Jamia Mosque while three others died on the way to hospital.
Four other people who were stabbed during the demonstration were taken to hospital by motorists passing through the riot zone. Police confirmed they had arrested several suspects but declined to comment about the casualties.
As the riot degenerated, police appeared to withdraw after they seemed overpowered forcing angry members of the public to stone the demonstrators.
Several vehicles parked on Banda Street and other streets near Jamia Mosque were extensively damaged.
On Saturday, Prof Saitoti held a meeting with Muslim leaders where it was agreed that Al-Faisal should be deported as soon as possible from Kenya.
“The man must leave this country as soon as possible. It is a matter of great insult that a foreigner would come to this country and be the source of terrible misunderstanding among Kenyans and lead to destruction of property and injury of people,” he stated.
“Sheikh Al-Faisal entered the country on a tourist visa but attracted the attention of government officials when he started preaching inciteful messages.”
He described the cleric as an undesirable element after being jailed in the United Kingdom for five years for preaching racial hatred and religious intolerance.
“After serving a five year sentence up to 2007, he was subsequently deported to Jamaica. The preacher is on an international watch list of prohibited persons,”
Prof Saitoti pointed out that Al-Faisal has even been banned from preaching in his own country of origin.