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Grenade Attack in Kenya Kills Police Officer

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riot police officers moved Tuesday to contain demonstrations in Mombasa, Kenya.  (AP)

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NAIROBI, Kenya — A Kenyan police officer died and 13 others were wounded late on Tuesday in a grenade attack during riots in Mombasa over the killing of a radical cleric, a senior police official said.

It was the second day of deadly unrest over the killing of the influential cleric, Sheik Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who had been accused by the United States and the United Nations of fund-raising and helping to recruit fighters for the Shabab, the Somali militant group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. Mr. Mohammed was shot dead on Monday by unknown gunmen, the police said.

Just a few moments after the cleric was shot, riots broke out in Mombasa, leading to at least one death. Denying any involvement in the cleric’s killing, the police said unidentified assailants had sprayed Mr. Mohammed’s car with bullets, killing him instantly. But many Muslims reject the official explanation and accuse the police of the murder.

On Tuesday, protests over the cleric’s death continued, with attackers hurling a grenade at a police truck in Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city.

Mr. Mohammed was facing charges in Kenya of orchestrating terrorist attacks. Last month, the United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions against him, saying he had rallied followers to fight in Somalia, raised money for the Shabab and “facilitated the travel to Somalia of numerous Kenyan recruits” for the insurgent group. A committee of the United Nations Security Council also imposed sanctions on him last month, citing Mr. Mohammed’s “campaign to promote violence throughout East Africa.”

Police arrested a protester during a second day of demonstrations in the coastal town of Mombasa, Kenya, on Tuesday. Joseph Okanga/Reuters

His death has set off protests and lawlessness across Mombasa, with Muslim youths burning churches in a city popular among foreign tourists.

Speaking from Mombasa, Ben Rawlence, a senior researcher of the New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned the killings.

“We condemn the assassination of the Mohammed Rogo and the killings of the officers,” he said. He called on the police to exercise restraint as they dealt with the rioters.

Kenya’s prime minister, Raila Odinga, also condemned the killing of Mr. Mohammed, calling it a heinous act.

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