* Police raid cleric's house after tip-off
* Anti-government feelings run high along coast
* Coast a fertile Islamist militant recruitment ground
By Joseph Akwiri
MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 28 Kenyan police shot dead a
Muslim cleric suspected of ties to Somalia's al Shabaab
militants in the city of Mombasa on Sunday, the latest in a
string of raids against alleged sympathisers of the Islamist
militants along the east African coast.
Local residents said gunfire erupted in the early hours when
police broke into Omar Faraj's house in the city's rundown
Majengo district, the same area where the radical preacher Aboud
Rogo, shot dead in August by unknown gunmen, held sermons.
Riot police patrolled Majengo's garbage-clogged streets and
tensions ran high in the morning, raising fears of a repeat of
the deadly rioting that broke out after Rogo's killing.
Police said a man arrested on Saturday carrying grenades on
a bus to Mombasa had led them to Faraj's house. He was also
killed by gunfire during the raid, police said, without
explaining the exact circumstances.
Neighbours said they collected dozens of spent bullet
cartridges and tear gas canisters.
"We have compelling reason to believe that the suspects had
ties with a terrorist organisation. We are linking them with al
Shabaab," John Gachomo, deputy criminal investigation officer
for Kenya's Coast region, told Reuters.
He declined to give further details, saying two more
suspects being held in custody were providing information.
The August clashes in Mombasa exposed the social, political
and sectarian divides that run deep along the Swahili coastline,
including across the border in Tanzania, and
raised the spectre of more violence ahead of Kenya's
presidential election next year.
Kenya's Muslims on the coast and in major urban areas have
long complained they are marginalised by the predominantly
Christian political class and are frequently the victims of
heavy-handed policing by security forces.
"My brother was a peaceful man. He was humble and had no
problem with anyone," Faraj's brother told reporters outside the
mortuary as dozens of supporters chanted Islamic slogans.
Kenya's poor Muslim neighbourhoods have proved fertile
recruitment ground for al Shabaab, a Somalia-based Islamist
militant group. Al Shabaab is seen as a serious threat to
stability in east Africa even though the rebels are losing
ground against a military offensive in Somalia.
There has been a surge in grenade and gun attacks along the
coast, in Nairobi and on the border with Somalia since Kenya
sent troops into the Horn of Africa country to help crush the al
Salim Japher Salim, who heads the Forum for Islam Unity in
Mombasa denied Faraj was a "terrorist".
"This deliberate attack on Muslims is unacceptable. It is
provocation and whatever happens after this, it will be entirely
the government to blame," Salim said.
During Sunday's raid, police said they recovered a pistol,
binoculars and a GPS locating device.