‘King’ of MRC held after bloody fight
Self-styled MRC ‘King’ Omar Mwamnwadzi leaves a Mombasa court after denying charges.Courtesy of Standard Digital
By Philip Mwakio and Tobias Chanji, Posted October 16, 2012
It took a joint force of regular police and the paramilitary General Service Unit to capture the most wanted man in Coast Province.
The bloody battle to arrest the leader of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), Mr Omar Hamisi Mwamnwadzi, and which shattered the peace of the sleepy village in Kombani sub-location of South Coast in Kwale County told only half the story.
The police were under strict orders to capture Mwamnwadzi alive.
“We had the muscle and power to overcome them. We had cordoned off the area and divided ourselves into various groups with one to provide protective fire incase we come under fire attack,’’ Muguai said.
But for a week, even as police were tracking the elusive secessionist leader, Mwamnwadzi, a former soldier, was using his knowledge gained in the Kenya Defence Forces to prepare for the worst.
His ragtag army of youthful supporters put together an arsenal of guns and crude weapons and covered themselves with charms from a witchdoctor in preparation to ward off the attack.
From most accounts reaching The Standard newsroom, Kombani was the separatist leader’s stronghold and he was prepared for the worst, aware police were closing in on his hideout.
He surrounded himself with militant supporters who believed in his cause and dug in to wait for the assault he knew was coming.
Meanwhile, intelligence sources indicated that a joint force of crack police and GSU officers from Nairobi, Kwale and Kilifi had been assembled.
They already had confirmation of the exact location the man they were under strict instructions to capture was hiding.
At 2am on Sunday, they arrived and laid siege to Mwamnwadzi’s home. Then the attack began. Trucks of heavily armed units rolled into the home, but were met with petrol bombs and sustained gunfire.
For close to three hours the place was a combat zone as the police, who were initially surprised by the fierce resistance put up by the militants, battled to pin them down as they surrounded the building to closed in on them.
“We had planned to execute our raid peacefully but it turned ugly when our entrance was met with gunfire and we had to respond accordingly leading to the deaths of two unidentified male persons,” said Muguai.
What ensued was a fierce exchange of gunfire between the security officers that rocked the village. Police later discovered that one of the suspected militants they killed was using an AK 47 assault rifle to try and beat back the formidable security team that was armed to the teeth.
Eventually the superior firepower of the police teams wore down the resistance and they stormed in and captured Mwamnwadzi and his wife Miamian Hamisi Mwavyombo in a goat shed. Also arrested at the home were 37 suspected MRC adherents, including two women said to be his confidantes.
In the confusion, many militants escaped, but not before hurling a petrol bomb at police trucks rolling into the compound and injuring an officer.
“We got him!” proclaimed Muguai announcing Mwamnwadzi’s capture to the press at Diani police station in Kwale.
But police fear militants who escaped the capture are plotting acts of terrorism against security officers, migrant residents and Government facilities. Security teams were yesterday put on high alert in areas like Tiwi, Ng’ombeni, Kombani, Kisauni, Chonyi and Kaloleni where MRC is strongest.
Coast Provincial Police Officer Aggrey Adoli described the retaliatory killing of a chief in Kombani by suspected MRC supporters as “the height of criminality” and vowed that “more people will be arrested” in the ongoing crackdown against the group and its sponsors.
“Anybody trying to fight the Government or Government officials will be dealt with accordingly,” Adoli said in Mombasa.
Following the MRC leader’s capture, people believed to be his supporters killed Mr Salim Changu, chief of Kombani sub-location in retaliation, for the attack on Mwamnwadzi’s.
In Mombasa, the Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito reiterated that the Government would not tolerate the MRC and its secessionist demands.
“It is a threat we are not going to take lightly,” said the minister who accused the separatists of plotting to hold back Coast Province by enforcing a General Election and examinations boycott.
Mwamnwadzi has been on the run since Monday last week when the Government started a crackdown on MRC leaders.
His bloody capture raised questions about earlier police claims he had fled his Kombani home, although other reports suggested he and his militant supporters sneaked back into their MRC stronghold after failing to escape into Tanzania.
At the MRC leader’s home, an AK 47 assault rifle with 15 rounds of live ammunition, witchcraft paraphernalia, four petrol bombs, machetes, bows and arrows, several pamphlets and T-shirts with MRC insignia were recovered.
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