, MOMBASA, Kenya Oct 5 – Police and security forces patrolled the streets of Mombasa Saturday, a day after Kenya’s port city was rocked by deadly riots sparked by the assassination of a Muslim cleric.
After furious street battles on Friday in which four protestors died — three from stab wounds and one shot — and a church was torched, the city was largely quiet overnight and remained so Saturday morning, an AFP reporter said.
Protesters hurled stones and armed paramilitary police fired tear gas near a mosque, some of whose leaders have been accused of links to Somalia’s Islamist Shebab, insurgents who massacred 67 people in Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall last month.
Protesters took to the streets Friday after midday Muslim prayers, angry over the killing by unknown gunmen of a popular preacher and his three companions in a drive-by shooting on Thursday night.
The assassination mirrored the murder of another extremist cleric last year that provoked days of deadly riots.
Slain cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail was viewed as the successor to Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a controversial preacher on US and UN sanctions lists for allegedly supporting the Shebab, who was shot dead in August 2012.
Mombasa is Kenya’s main port and a major tourist hub, popular with visitors coming to enjoy the white sand beaches on the Indian Ocean coastline.
Like in the case of Rogo, radical preachers have said the killing of Ismail was an “execution” by the police, which denied the claim.
“We are not involved in anyway with the killings,” regional police chief Robert Kitur said.
The killing of Ismail follows attacks last month by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab, who launched a deadly assault on an upmarket Nairobi shopping mall in a four-day bloodbath.
The Islamists have since threatened “rivers of blood” would flow in fresh attacks if Kenya does not pull its troops out of Somalia.