A Muslim cleric known to help in the fight against extremism and radicalisation of youth in Mombasa, was on Tuesday night shot and killed by unknown assailants in Likoni.
Sheikh Salim Bakari Marangi was shot at around 8 pm outside masjid Bilal mosque where he had gone to pray, before he died while receiving treatment at a local dispensary, witnesses told Baraka FM.
He was shot on the chest, hand and waist by suspects who escaped into the darkness without stealing anything from him, added the witnesses.
“He was an active member of the Mombasa security committee and was really instrumental in advising youth against radicalisation and other forms of extremism,” Francis Auma, programmes coordinator at Haki Africa, a local human rights organisation, told Baraka FM.
The motive of the killing was not immediately clear, but police sources privy to the Bakari’s activities, suggested it may have been to do with the cleric’s resolve to help government end extremism in Mombasa.
In June, another cleric, sheikh Mohammed Idris, the then chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), was killed by assailants at a mosque in the same area and style.
Idris had also been touted as an anti-extremism crusader.
Muslim activists said he was among 21 other clerics who had either disappeared or killed in a similar manner, since this types of killings and disappearances started in 2000.
The government is trying to break up militant recruitment networks among its Muslim community in an effort to end attacks it blames on al Shabaab and its sympathisers who are bent on punishing the country for sending troops to Somalia to fight al Shabaab rebels.
Activists have long complained that heavy-handed police tactics after militant attacks, including the mass round-up of suspects, have stoked anger in the Muslim community and undermined moderate preachers trying to counter radical ideas.
They also complain police have not done enough to offer protection when threats have been made.
Other prominent clerics killed in drive-by shootings were sheikh Aboud Rogo in 2012 and his close ally Abubakar Sherif, killed in 2014, who were both on the local and international terrorist watch list, and whose killings sparked days of angry riots in Mombasa.
Rights activists accused police of the killings but police denied.