Kenya cleric Abubaker Ahmed charged over Mombasa riots

Police patrol Mombasa, 29 August Five people, including three policemen, were killed in the riots

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A radical Kenyan Muslim cleric has been charged with inciting last week's violent protests in the second city, Mombasa.

Abubaker Ahmed denied the charge after handing himself to a court in the city.

The riots were triggered by the killing of another Muslim cleric, Aboud Rogo Mohammed, by unknown gunmen.

The US had accused both clerics of supporting militant Islamists in neighbouring Somalia.

Kenyan police issued an arrest warrant for Mr Ahmed following the riots that killed five people.

'Not hiding'

Mr Ahmed told Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper that he handed himself over because he feared for his life.

"We are certain that there is a hit squad targeting Muslim clerics and other Muslims perceived to be extremists," he is quoted as saying.

In court, Mr Ahmed pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting the protests.

His lawyer, Mbugua Mureithi, denied prosecution claims that he had been trying to evade arrest.

"My client was not hiding as no police came for him. There was no attempt by police to arrest my client," the AFP news agency quotes Mr Mureithi as telling the court.

Muslim youth were involved in two days of running battles with police after Mr Rogo's killing.

Three policemen and two civilians were killed in the riots and shops were burnt and churches looted.

The protesters accused the Kenyan security forces of killing Mr Rogo, claiming he had been the victim of a "targeted assassination".

This was denied by the police.

Mr Ahmed and Mr Rogo were fierce critics of Kenya's decision to send troops to Somalia last year to fight the militant Islamist group, al-Shabab.

The US alleges that the clerics recruited Kenyan youths to fight for al-Shabab.

It also accuses Mr Ahmed of making "frequent trips" to areas controlled by al-Shabab-controlled in Somalia, AFP reports.

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