Africa

Kenyan 'radical madrassa' closed in Machakos

Children recite from the Koran at a village school in north-eastern Kenya Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police said the profiling of terror suspects found some of them had attended the Machakos madrassa

The authorities in Kenya have closed a madrassa - or religious school - for teaching radical Islamic ideologies.

The school in Machakos, about 65km (40 miles) from the capital, was targeted after local youths were detained on suspicion of joining Somali militants.

It is the first Kenyan madrassa to be closed because of allegedly extremist teachings. A police chief warned that others could follow.

Somalia's al-Shabab group has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya.

The al-Qaeda affiliate says they are in revenge for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia and the killing of Muslims.

A year ago, 67 people were killed when the group's fighters laid siege to the upmarket Westgate shopping centre in the capital, Nairobi.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told the BBC the decision had been taken to close the Daarul-Irashad centre, which opened in 1997, on the advice of the police's CID, anti-terror and intelligence units.

The recent arrest in the Machakos area of 21 young men suspected of being recruited for al-Shabab first raised suspicions, he said.

The police then profiled suspects arrested in other terror crackdowns and found that others had passed through that madrassa, the spokesman said.

The head of the madrassa, Farqan Chacha, told the BBC the school was challenging the closure in court.

He confirmed that all pupils at the school, which offers three-month courses for new converts, had been sent home.

The BBC's Abdullahi Abdi in Nairobi says Machakos is a large town south-east of the capital with a minority Muslim population that has not been subject to any attacks.

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