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Sheikh murders: A thirst for vengeance?

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th July 2015 11:30 AM

Senior Muslim leaders accuse a cross-section of the Muslim community of being thirsty for vengeance.

Sheikh murders: A thirst for vengeance?

Senior Muslim leaders accuse a cross-section of the Muslim community of being thirsty for vengeance.

By John Semakula & Farooq Kasule

KAMPALA - Senior Muslim leaders have accused a cross-section of the Muslim community of being thirsty for vengeance after the killing of nine sheikhs and targeting others.

Different sheikhs told New Vision in separate interviews that Muslims who collaborate with the Allied Democratic Front Forces (ADF) could be the ones killing sheikhs who formerly worked for the rebel group before securing amnesty.

Sheikh Hassan Kirya, the latest victim who was gunned down on Tuesday night, was among the former ADF rebels pardoned by the Government. At the time of his death, Kirya was working with the Police to identify the assassins who killed the first eight sheikhs, according to Police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura.

Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, who was killed on December 28, 2014 along Entebbe Road was a close colleague of ADF leader Jamil Mukulu before receiving amnesty in 2006.

Reliable sources told New Vision that ADF is targeting the sheikhs for betraying the cause.

During the prayers for Sheikh Kirya at Kibuli Mosque on Wednesday, Kayihura admitted that the cleric was killed because he was working with him.

In 1991, Kirya and Bahiga are said to have been part of Mukulu’s group that raided Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Administration (UMSC) at Old Kampala and strangled Police dogs which had been deployed to prevent them from taking over the place by force.

In the fracas that ensued, four Police officers were also killed before the group later fled the country to start a rebellion under ADF.

Reliable sources also revealed that the other sheikhs who were murdered in eastern Uganda, like Yunus Abubaker Mudungu and Abdul Jawali Sentunga had links with ADF. The Police had also linked the murders to ADF as soon as the sheikhs were killed.

History of attacks

Haji Nsereko Mutumba, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council spokesperson. (File photo)

Security sources also told New Vision that ADF started targeting liberal Muslim leaders in the late 1990s and that Haji Nsereko Mutumba was the first on the list. In 1997, a bomb went off at Mutumba’s home in Kibuye, a Kampala suburb and injured one of his children.

Mutumba, the then leader of the Foundation for Islamic Development, was reportedly targeted because he was mobilising Muslim youth against joining the ADF. The groups also attacked Kibuye Police Station and other places a few days later.

Mutumba, the UMSC spokesperson, told New Vision that following the incident, he thought he had been attacked by rival groups of Muslim butchers he was working with at the city abattoir.

Mutumba narrated that a joint team of security experts from different groups was involved in the hunt for attackers and within weeks, the suspects were arrested.

“I don’t know why today the Police is working in isolation. Where are the other security groups like the Internal Security Organisation (ISO)?” he asked.

Efforts to speak to the security minister, Karooro Okurut and internal affairs minister Gen. Aronda Nyakairima were futile as their phones had been off.

Mutumba appealed to President Yoweri Museveni to intervene and ensure that Muslims and other Ugandans have security. “We elected the President that is why we are directing our appeal to him and not any other person,” he said.

But another group of Muslim leaders believes that the killers are linked to an extremist faction from a certain mosque in the city. Sheikh Haruna Jjemba, one of the clerics on the alleged ‘hit-list’, suspects that the ‘extremists’ are engaged in a power struggle.

Kirya was supposed to be one of the key prosecution witnesses in the murder case against the 23 suspects over the first eight killings. Another source said the recent disunity among the Tabliqs should not be ruled out.

Also related to this story

Sheikh Kirya was killed because of me – Kayihura

Life and times of Sheikh Ibrahim Kirya

Muslims mourn Sheikh Kirya: In pictures

Kirya the 9th Muslim cleric killed in two years

Sheikh Kirya feared for his life

Sheikh murders: A thirst for vengeance?

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