The story surrounding the shooting dead by Kenyan police of at least two Islamist ‘terrorism suspects’, Omar Faraj and Titus Nabiswa in Majengo, Mombasa, at the weekend, gives rise to more questions than answers. At present the police’s account of the incident does not add up.
ARREST IN MARIAKANI
The trail that led to the shoot-out at Majengo began on Saturday afternoon when Titus Nabiswa, according to the police, was arrested in Mariakani on a bus bound for Mombasa from Nairobi. Some reports say that Nabwisa was carrying weapons, others that he was a ‘suspect’, either way he supposedly led Anti-Terror Police officers to ‘cell members’ in Mtwapa, where two ‘accomplices’ were picked up, and on to Kilifi and later to a house in Majengo.
‘FIERCE SHOOTOUT’ IN MOMBASA
“The trio later led a team of detectives to a house in Majengo area of Mombasa”, said Coast Provincial Deputy Criminal Investigations Officer (PCIO) Mr. John Gachomo, “where the occupants refused to open the door and started firing into the officers and a fierce shootout ensued (according to one report the house ‘bore hundreds of bullet marks’) in which two suspects were shot dead and four other occupants fled under the hail of gunfire”. He reported that no police officers were injured in the gun battle.
HOW MANY DIED?
Here the story gets very confusing. The police reported that ‘three militants’ had been killed in the shoot-out but two of the bodies were ‘snatched’ by their accomplices when they overwhelmed the police during the battle. Another report refers to two deaths. Only one body, Fajah’s, was displayed at the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa. Four suspects were said to have escaped and Nabwisa, a key witness and informant was killed during the shooting.
‘KEY SUSPECT’ KILLED
It appears that at Majengo Nabiswa may have been used by the police to try and get a Mr Omar Fajah (described as 44 years old in one newspaper and 30 in another) to come out a house but Fajah and the house’s other occupants opened fire. Fajah was killed, as it seems was Nabiswa (27) who (perhaps) got caught up in the crossfire.
Later, police reportedly lobbed tear case canisters into the house and fired warning shots over a gathering crowd when they tried to prevent the police entering the house to retrieve a body. Press reports say that one or two hand grenades were recovered from the building in Majengo together with a 9mm German-made Luger pistol, a silencer and 37 rounds of ammunition from Nabwisa when he was picked up on Saturday.
“This is the first time the police officers have recovered this type of lethal pistol from criminals in the country”, PCIO Gachomo was reported as saying. The Luger is a World War Two vintage pistol famous for its ‘antique properties’, wrote The Standard’s reporter. It was also renowned, the Kenya Forum can report, for jamming.
WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
This is a strange story as it stands at the moment. How many people were in the house? How many people died? How many escaped? Did the police enter the house before, during, or after the battle? The police were ‘overwhelmed’ but (fortunately) sustained no injuries. Four people escaped, perhaps taking a body or two with them. An ‘antique’ gun was found. A ‘key suspect’, who was with the police at the time, was killed.
The Kenya Forum has stated before that the anti-terrorist police have a difficult and dangerous job to do. If they have foiled a terror attack by taking action in Majengo then we applaud them but we need to know more about what really happened before we can celebrate.