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Kenyan Muslims Condemn Killing in Anti-Terror Raid

  • Gabe Joselow

A Kenyan Muslim-rights group says the killing of two terror suspects by police in the coastal city of Mombasa exemplifies recent abuses by law enforcement against Muslims. Muslims for Human Rights says it also doubts the claim that one of the suspects killed could have been involved in terrorism.

Kenyan police say they killed two terror suspects after being shot at Sunday during a raid on a house in the Mombasa suburb of Majengo. Four other suspects escaped.

Police told reporters they were led to the house by a suspect arrested the day before, while he was carrying weapons on a bus.

Rights group doubtful

Muslims for Human Rights, known by its acronym MUHURI, disputes the story. Executive Director Hussein Khalid said the operation was another case of the police going too far in their fight against terrorism.

“It is very clear at this point in time that you know the police through the Ministry of Internal Security have decided to engage in a crackdown, which in our opinion is largely violating the constitutional rights of individual Muslims and the coastal community in general,” said Khalid.

In reaction to a series of grenade attacks targeting civilians in Kenya in recent months, the country's anti-terror unit has stepped up operations against individuals accused of having ties to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, as well as members of a separatist - and mostly Muslim - group, the Mombasa Republican Council.

Police say they found grenades, a gun and several rounds of ammunition at the house targeted in Sunday's raid.

Khalid said his group cannot trust the police, saying they could always plant the evidence.

He also said one of those killed in the operation, Omar Faraj, was known as a peaceful man who used to perform the call to prayers at a local mosque. He said his targeting may have been a case of mistaken identity and the officers involved should be investigated.

“So the first and immediate thing that we want to see is the police taking action against any of its members who in any way were involved in the excessive use of force,” said Khalid.

The other suspect killed in the raid has not been identified.

Police chief requests patience

Coast Province Police Chief Aggrey Adoli said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, but said he is sympathetic to the concerns of the Muslim community.

“It is natural for anybody at least to mourn when death strikes. But what I am appealing to them is for them to be quite patient as the government conducts the investigation to finalize the whole matter,” said Adoli.

Earlier this month, a police officer was killed by a grenade during a similar raid targeting terror suspects in the Likoni area of Coast Province. Three suspects also were killed in that operation.

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