NAIROBI – Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a Kenyan radical Islamic cleric, was killed Monday morning in a drive-by shooting in Mombasa. His death sparked protests and riots, spurring many businesses to close and pedestrians to stay away. At least one person died as a result of the violence, and several churches have been vandalized. As of Tuesday, pockets of Mombasa are still experiencing violence as riots continue. Police say an officer was killed Tuesday in a grenade attack by one of the protesters.
Rogo's wife suffered a leg wound in the attack on her husband, while his five-year old daughter, his father, and another relative, who were also in the car, were uninjured.
Riots quickly ensued, by hundreds of rampaging Muslim youths in the streets, as Rogo’s body was taken for burial.
Devia de Souza, who works in Majengo, one of the areas hit hardest by the rioting, has been barricaded inside her office since about 9:30 am (local time) Tuesday. She kept the shades down, to protect the 18 employees from attracting attention from the protesters outside.
“I can’t see anything right now but earlier, there were lots of people running around and shouting, that they should kill all the kafirs, which is, I guess, non-Muslims," she said. "They were getting people off the streets, and beating them up and taking their mobiles and money and whatever they had on them.”
One of these victims, Jackson Katana, a Mombasa driver and courier, suffered skin burns.
“Those small boys, I can say, like robbers, they came in a group and they broke the place where I was hiding," he recalled. "We were about four people there, inside, they took our phones, took our wallets, and they took our thermos, it was full of [hot] tea. And they poured in my chest, here. But this time, the whole skin is out now. And I can’t go out to hospital because the tension is still high outside.”
Katana says he was lucky - worse things could have happened.
“They were asking me if I was a Muslim or a Christian, but I didn’t tell them anything," he said. "But we had somebody, there was one person, who was a Muslim, so the one person talked to them, that’s why they didn’t beat us.”
According to de Souza, the rioters are coming in groups of 20 to 30 people at a time, so it’s difficult to determine how many there are in total. De Souza says that for now, she and her coworkers are just waiting for assistance so they can leave safely.
“I’m very scared actually, because I don’t know how long we’re going to be stuck here," she lamented. "Hopefully the policemen will come and clear this out, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to, they might have to call in reinforcements. They had, in fact, yesterday afternoon, we stopped at about 2:30, 3:00, because right next to our office, they burnt a security van and further down the road they burnt a CID vehicle, or a police vehicle or something like, and we could actually see the car burning, which was very freaky.”
Rogo was accused by the United States and United Nations of recruiting fighters and raising money for al-Shabab, the Somali terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida. He was also facing charges of orchestrating attacks in Mombasa.