, MOMBASA, Kenya, Aug 30 – Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki arrived in the port city of Mombasa on Thursday after days of violence sparked by the killing of a radical Muslim cleric, as authorities insisted security has been restored.
Hundreds of armed security officers have been deployed in Mombasa to quash stone-throwing rioters who took to the streets in their hundreds following the assassination of preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed on Monday.
“We have tightened security, we have enough security forces,” said regional police chief Aggrey Adoli, speaking a day after attackers hurled a grenade at a police truck, wounding at least four officers. “We have not had problems today.”
The attack, in which the Red Cross said one person was killed, was the second such blast since riots broke out on Monday, with an earlier grenade killing three policemen on Tuesday.
Kibaki flew to Mombasa to open an agricultural trade fair, a longstanding engagement, but one which is also viewed as a government effort to show confidence in security in the city, Kenya’s main port and a key tourist hub.
For two days, angry youths fought running battles with police, looting churches and torching cars. But Muslim leaders said Thursday the situation had improved, with many businesses closed during the rioting now open.
“Things are much calmer after last night’s house to house searches by the police… Mombasa is slowly returning to normal,” said Khalid Hussein, head of the local organisation Muslims for Human Rights.
“All we can do is pray that police do not go out on a revenge mission since some of their own have fallen victim to the violence. This might provoke the rioters again.”
The murdered cleric – popularly known as Rogo – was on US and UN sanctions lists for allegedly supporting neighbouring Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants.
Rogo had fiercely opposed Kenya’s invasion of southern Somalia last year to attack Shabaab bases. The United States and United Nations had accused him of recruiting and fundraising for the extremist insurgents.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday visited Mombasa, where he called for the nation to come together to stop religious violence.