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Rioting in Kenyan Port of Mombasa Breaks Out for Second Day

Kenyan police fired tear gas at rioters and a grenade blast wounded an officer in the port city of Mombasa in the second day of unrest since the killing of a Muslim cleric under U.S. and UN sanctions, police said.

A police officer was wounded in a grenade blast today, Kenya police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said. One person was hacked to death yesterday during riots that erupted in reaction to the killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who was shot in a car in Mombasa by unknown gunmen, Coast Provincial Police Officer Aggrey Adoli said.

Police officers are trying to restore order as hundreds of rioters loot shops, vandalize property and throw stones in the predominately Muslim Majengo suburb, he said by phone today from Mombasa.

Rogo faced sanctions by the U.S. and UN for fundraising and recruiting fighters for Somalia’s al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab. The insurgents have been fighting since at least 2006 to topple the Western-backed government in Mogadishu, the capital, and rule by strict Islamic law.

Kenyan soldiers are part of an African Union peacekeeping mission, fighting alongside Somali and Ethiopian forces, to help bring the country under government control after more than 20 years of anarchy since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre’s ouster.

‘Political Component’

The violence in Mombasa follows a week of fighting by rival communities in Kenya’s Tana River, Mandera and Wajir districts that killed at least 64 people. The United Nations is “deeply concerned” about the attacks, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Aeneas Chuma said.

“There is evidence to suggest the killings have a political component related to redrawing of boundaries and next year’s general elections,” he said today in an e-mailed statement.

Kenya’s next national elections are scheduled to take place in March 2013, the first since a disputed December 2007 poll prompted ethnic violence which killed at least 1,133 people and caused economic growth to plummet.

The Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, East Africa’s busiest, handles shipments coming in and out of Kenya, the world’s biggest black tea exporter, as well as interior countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Thirteen people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a Mombasa hotel in 2002, the same day assailants tried to shoot down an Israeli charter plane leaving the city, according to the city of Mombasa’s website. Al-Qaeda is suspected to have carried out both attacks, it said.

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