At least five killed in demo over Jamaican clericin Kenya

14:27, January 16, 2010      

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At least five people were killed while dozens injured on Friday when anti-riot police broke up demonstration called by Kenyan Muslims to protest the arrest of controversial Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah Al-Faisal.

The peaceful protest turned violent as the marchers pelted police officers with stones who in turn fired in the air and lobbed tear gas canisters.

Several people including police officers were among those who were seriously injured in the protest while some of them were stabbed by the demonstrators.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua late Friday that two of the demonstrators died at a clinic near the Mosque in downtown Nairobi while three others died on the way to hospital.

Shops adjacent to the mosque were looted and vehicles that were parked on the streets had their windscreens smashed by stone-throwing youths.

Angry members of the public joined in the melee and helped police to confront the advancing Muslim youths.

Farouk Machanje, co-convenor of the Muslim Human Rights Forum which organized the demonstration said the deceased were all killed by bullet wounds.

"I have collected a total of seven spent cartridge. We are now preparing them for burial. It is very sad that the police provoked the demonstrators and you can see now they have killed our people," he added.

The chaos broke out after hundreds of Muslims attending Friday prayers at the Nairobi Mosque defied police orders and went ahead with the planned march.

By late Friday, the police were still shooting in the air to disperse pro-Faisal demonstration called by the Muslim Human Rights Forum which had started peacefully in the capital, Nairobi after the Friday prayers.

The Muslims argued that they notified the government of their intention to stage demonstration in major towns on Friday to press for the release of the Jamaican who was last Monday forced back into the country after Nigeria declined to allow him to use its territory en route to Gambia, where he had asked to be taken.

The police helicopter have deployed to monitor the unfolding events from the air on Friday evening as motorists were held up in an ensuing traffic snarl up after sections of city streets were shut.

Youths waving placards castigated the government's move to arrest Al-Faisal, whose history of radical statements and connections with convicted terrorists made him a threat to Kenya's security.

Some of the protesters were chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and others displayed what was thought to be the flag of Somali rebel group al Shabaab.

However, the demonstration soon turned ugly as a confrontation between the youths and police ensued. Police fired live rounds and teargas canisters to disperse the youth, who in turn pelted the officers with stones.

A huge pall of smoke engulfed some streets as the two groups engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase. A contingent of the General Service Unit was called in to offer reinforcement as the back and forth battle intensified.

The Jamaican preacher was deported from Nairobi on Thursday following orders by Immigration Minister. Al-Faisal, born Trevor William Forrest, was convicted in Britain on terrorism-related charges in 2003 and deported on release in 2007.

On arrival in Jamaica, the Islamic Council of Jamaica banned him from preaching in its mosques. The Kenyan authorities held Al-Faisal at the country's main airport for the better part of last week as they plotted his next destination.

Kenya had flown him to Lagos, Nigeria. From there, he was scheduled to fly to Gambia and then to Jamaica. But airlines in Nigeria refused to fly him to Gambia.

Kenyan authorities reportedly drove him to the border of Tanzania last Tuesday because he had entered Kenya from there, but Tanzania refused him entry.

On Thursday, Gambia offered to help get him to Jamaica, but now it is unclear how he can travel to Gambia. Muslim leaders and human rights activists said Sunday that they had spotted Faisal at a Nairobi prison.

Source: Xinhua
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