Kenya police kill man, arrest 250 in mosque raids
The country has been trying to break up militant networks it blames for a series of attacks on the coast.
MOMBASA Kenya - Kenyan police shot dead a man and arrested about 250 others when they searched two mosques in this port city that they said were used to recruit militants and stash weapons, senior officials said on Monday.
Kenya has been trying to break up militant networks it blames for a series of attacks on the coast, saying many recruits were inspired by Somalia's Islamist group al-Shabaab.
"These mosques have been notorious for radicalising our youth and recruiting them into al-Shabaab," Nelson Marwa, the commissioner responsible for administering Mombasa County, told Reuters after Monday's police raids.
Kenya has sent troops to Somalia as a part of an African Union peacekeeping force, while Al-Shabaab, which was behind a bloody 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, has vowed to drive the Kenyan and other African soldiers out.
Some 251 youths, who had been camping in Mussa and Sakina mosques and receiving militant training, were arrested, police said. They added that one man was shot dead at the Mussa mosque when he tried to throw a grenade at officers.
Geoffrey Mayek, Mombasa police chief, told reporters that eight grenades, a pistol, six bullets, machetes, daggers and literature on warfare were found at the two mosques.
Police seized mobiles and laptops, alongside literature and videos that they said referred to former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Kenyan preachers accused of promoting militancy.
Civil rights group condemned the raids, saying the security agents were targeting Muslims unfairly, deepening distrust in a Muslim community that already accuses the government in mainly Christian Kenyan of sidelining them.
"The police have again defiled the mosques and turned them into camps of violence and have arrested many innocent people and even killed one unfairly," Hussein Khalid, director of Haki Africa, a local rights group, told Reuters.
Businesses in the Majengo area where the mosques are situated were closed as heavily armed police patrolled the neighbourhood on trucks. Past raids have sparked protests.