, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 – One person was killed Monday as Kenyan security forces raided mosques in the port city of Mombasa searching for weapons and radical supporters of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda affiliated Al Shabaab militants, police said.
Security forces began the operation in the early hours of Monday, targeting the Masjid Shuhada and Mujahidin mosques in Mombasa.
“We had information that the group has been planning an attack, and that is why the raid was conducted,” Mombasa Central Police Chief Geoffrey Mayek said.
“We have arrested several of them, including six notorious ones,” he added.
Police said one man was killed but gave no details as to how he died, with the operation still ongoing.
Several Islamic preachers have been shot dead in Mombasa in recent months in alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces and power struggles between rival Muslim factions. Churches have also been attacked.
The raid comes at time when Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo had instructed Imams in the mosques to eject radical youths who had forced out some preachers perceived to be sympathisers of the government.
The youths took over two mosques in the county and changed the names of Masjid Musa to Masjid Shuhada and Sakina Mosque to Masjid Mujahidin.
Police believe the two mosques are being used to radicalise youths and have further stated that youths are being recruited into the al Shabaab insurgent militia through the two mosques.
Western nations have warned their nationals to avoid all but essential travel to Mombasa, a key transport hub as well as important tourist focal point for the country’s Indian Ocean coastline.
The city has been hit by bombings and shootings since Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011 to attack the Al Shabaab, later joining an African Union force battling the Islamists.
The Shabaab carried out the September 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, killing at least 67 people as a warning to Kenya to pull its troops out of southern Somalia.