Kenya de­liv­ers a blow to mil­i­tant net­works

Po­lice raids at mosques un­cover weapons and see hun­dreds ar­rested

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - REUTERS

KENYAN po­lice found ex­plo­sives at three mosques in Mom­basa yes­ter­day and ar­rested 109 peo­ple on sus­pi­cion they were un­der­go­ing mil­i­tant train­ing, in the lat­est in a se­ries of raids in the port city.

Kenya is look­ing to break up Is­lamist mil­i­tant net­works it blames for a se­ries of at­tacks in the cap­i­tal Nairobi and along its In­dian Ocean coast­line, say­ing many of the re­cruits are in­spired by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked So­mali group.

“Th­ese op­er­a­tions have started and will go on un­til all places of wor­ship, es­pe­cially mosques, in Mom­basa are set free from ter­ror­ist and crim­i­nal el­e­ments,” Robert Ki­tur, the Mom­basa County po­lice com­man­der, said. “We have been gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence for a long pe­riod, and it was time to act.”

Po­lice raided two mosques on Mon­day, seiz­ing weapons and lit­er­a­ture that they said was ev­i­dence of mil­i­tant ac­tiv­ity.

The fol­low­ing day, a group of youths armed with ma­chetes and knives killed three peo­ple.

Richard Nga­tia, a lo­cal po­lice chief, said in­ves­ti­ga­tors found three ma­chetes at Mom­basa’s Mina mosque and a grenade, while two 10-litre petrol bombs and a

‘We’ve been gath­er­ing in­tel for a long pe­riod; it was time to act’

bomb det­o­na­tor were un­cov­ered at the Swafaa mosque.

“The mosques have been rad­i­cal­is­ing youth, train­ing and en­cour­ag­ing them in ji­hadism. We also re­cov­ered a booster used to ac­cel­er­ate ex­plo­sions… and lit­er­a­ture about ji­hadism,” Nga­tia said.

Po­lice have ar­rested 376 peo­ple so far dur­ing the raids, which started on Sun­day, but 91 were sub­se­quently re­leased be­cause of lack of ev­i­dence.

Pros­e­cu­tors said 158 would be charged with be­ing mem­bers of al-Shabaab. Po­lice said they were con­sid­er­ing what to do with the other de­tainees.

Al-Shabaab killed at least 67 peo­ple in a gun and grenade raid on a Nairobi shop­ping mall in Septem­ber last year, say­ing it was re­venge for at­tacks on its fight­ers by Kenyan troops in So­ma­lia.

In­se­cu­rity plagues East Africa’s big­gest econ­omy, and at­tacks in the past year on the coast and in the cap­i­tal have prompted Western na­tions to is­sue travel warn­ings, hit­ting the tourism in­dus­try, which is a big source of hard cur­rency.

PIC­TURES: EPA

CRACK­DOWN: Kenyan po­lice ar­rest Mus­lim youths at a mosque in the coastal city of Mom­basa, Kenya, on Mon­day. Po­lice con­ducted dawn raids on sev­eral mosques, re­cov­er­ing weapons and ar­rest­ing scores of al­leged sup­port­ers of alShabaab, So­ma­lia’s Is­lamist mil­i­tant group.

SEIZURE: Some of the items con­fis­cated dur­ing a po­lice raid on the Swafaa mosque in Mom­basa.

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