Africa

Kenya police seize weapons in Mombasa mosques raid

File photo: A police officer hits men as police storm the Masjid Musa Mosque and detain alleged jihadist radicals in the Majengo area of Mombasa, 2 February 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police say the Masjid Musa mosque is used as a recruitment ground for al-Shabab

Kenyan police say they have conducted dawn raids on two mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa, recovering grenades and ammunition.

One person was shot dead by police and more than 250 people were arrested during the operation.

Police said the Masjid Musa and Shakinah mosques were being used to store weapons.

They have accused the Masjid Musa mosque of having ties to the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab, which is based in neighbouring Somalia, has carried out several attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle it.

Police say they recovered a pistol, eight grenades and a flag associated with al-Shabab at the mosques.

One man was shot dead during the raid after he "attempted to hurl" a hand grenade at police officers, Mombasa police chief Geoffrey Mayek told reporters.

This is the second time this year that the Masjid Musa mosque has been raided by police, the BBC's Emmanual Igunza reports from Mombasa.

Police say it is used as a recruitment and training ground for young people seeking to join al-Shabab, our correspondent adds.

'Volatile situation'

Activist Hussein Khalid, from civil society group HAKI Africa, condemned the police raids.

"Force will only act to heighten tension in what is already a volatile situation," he said in quotes carried by AFP news agency.

The Muslim Human Rights Forum has criticised a previous raid on Masjid Musa mosque, accusing police of using excessive force.

There have been several gun attacks in Mombasa this year. Both moderate and radical Muslim clerics have been shot dead, while a church has also been attacked by gunmen.

Some Muslim leaders have accused the security forces of killing the clerics - charges denied by the authorities.

Al-Shabab, which means "The Youth" in Arabic, says it is an ally of al-Qaeda and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

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