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Inquest fails to identify Rogo's killers

21 October 2015, 21:36

Mombasa - An inquest in Kenya's port city of Mombasa into the killing of a controversial hardline Muslim cleric three years ago has failed to establish who carried out the murder, officials said Wednesday.

Aboud Rogo Mohammed -- who was on US and UN sanction lists for allegedly supporting Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab -- was shot dead in the city in August 2012.

The killing prompted several days of rioting in the strategic port city and trade gateway to East Africa, and was followed by a string of several other so far unexplained killings of hardline clerics.

The murders have led to allegations that Kenyan security forces have been operating a secret hit squad that carries out extra-judicial killings with total impunity -- allegations that have been denied by Kenyan authorities.

After Wednesday's closing of the inquest, chief magistrate Julius Nangea said no witnesses managed to identify Rogo's killers.

But he also criticised local police for taking too long to respond to distress calls from the cleric's wife after the shooting.

"Police have complicated the inquest since it is indicated that they had an unsatisfactory response... even after receiving information that he had been shot dead," the magistrate said.

He also ordered the case be forwarded to the office of the director of public prosecutions for review.

None of Rogo's relatives took part in the inquest's proceedings, arguing that they considered the Kenyan state to be responsible for his death.

The wave of killings of radical clerics have come amid fears that the Shebab have stepped up their presence -- and the recruitment of disenchanted Muslim youth -- in the Muslim-majority coastal region.

Rogo's successor, Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail, was also shot dead in October 2013, while prominent hardliner Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, better known as Makaburi and a vocal supporter of Osama bin Laden, was gunned down in April 2014.

The unrest in Mombasa has prompted several Western nations to issue travel warnings, badly hitting the region's key tourism sector.

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