News / Africa

Tension, Violence on the Rise in Mombasa, Kenya

Armed police guard the Salvation Army Church after it was set on fire by rioting youths, following Friday Muslim prayers in Mombasa, Kenya, Oct. 4, 2013.
Armed police guard the Salvation Army Church after it was set on fire by rioting youths, following Friday Muslim prayers in Mombasa, Kenya, Oct. 4, 2013.
Tension is running high in Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city, where five Muslim clerics have been killed in the past year, and a Christian cleric was shot to death on October 19.  Locals accuse the police of operating with impunity and making the situation worse.

Rehema Lugogo, 44, has been searching for her husband, Badru Bakari Mramba, for almost a year.  She is one of the dozens of women whose sons and husbands were accused of being terror suspects and who disappeared in the last few years.
 
Lugogo’s husband went missing on November 13, 2012. She said Mramba was operating a snack kiosk near Musa Mosque in the impoverished neighborhood of Majengo.
 
Kenyan security forces accused clerics at the mosque of recruiting for Somali militant group al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for last month's massacre at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
 
The mother of four believes her husband was taken away by Kenya's anti-terror police unit just because he knew a lot about the activities in the area.
 
“He was near the mosque.  Maybe they thought there was something he knew and as I said he is a Muslim, he goes to the mosque, he listens to the sermons," she explained. "He knows a lot of people and a lot of people know him.  Him being there, he knew the good people, people are different he knows many characters.”
 
According to the wife, a day before Mramba was reported missing, he attended the wedding of the daughter of the late controversial cleric Aboud Rogo.
 
Rogo was one of five clerics from the Musa Mosque killed by unidentified gunmen over the past year. Another leading cleric, Ibrahim Amor, was killed along with three of his associates early this month.
 
A day after Rogo's daughter's wedding, anti-terror police raided the cleric’s house and arrested three people including two of his children.  They were accused a planning a major attack in Mombasa. 
 
The three suspects were later arraigned in court, but not Mramba - who has yet to reappear. 
 
Mombasa's Christian community has not been spared from violence either.  Late on Saturday, unidentified gunmen stormed the church of Pastor Charles Mathole and killed him while he was praying.  According to family members, the late pastor had received death threats ahead of the shooting.
 
Francis Auma, works with Muslim for Human Rights (MUHURI), a Mombasa-based rights group.  His organization has documented dozens of alleged arbitrary arrests and killings by police.
 
Auma said the way police handle alleged terrorism cases is disturbing.
 
“There are a lot of things happening in [the] coast [region] within a period of three years.  The trend is really worrying and this is what we call impunity of high tech, and this is what we call extra-judicial killings.  And this is what we call torture from the state to the civilians,” Auma said.
 
United Nations investigators and human rights groups also accused Kenyan police of killing suspects, an accusation the police have denied.
 
Mombasa police boss Robert Kitur acknowledged some families have reported some of their family members missing.
 
‘If somebody has reported about a missing person, it’s upon us to circulate the same with a view of even arresting or with the view of bringing back that person and very many people have come out not even missing somebody," Kitur said. "Maybe he or she was in errands elsewhere without informing the parents or the guardians.”
 
For now, mistrust continues between the police and the community in Mombasa. Some security observers have expressed concern that further violence could take the coastal region in a direction that is in nobody’s interest.
 

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs