Several suspects believed to have recruited fighters for Islamic State are being held in Rwanda, police said on Saturday, one week after an Islamic cleric with suspected links to the terrorist militia was shot and killed in Kigali.
Rwandan police shot dead Muhammad Mugemangango as he tried to escape police custody. He was suspected of recruiting for the militants in Syria and Iraq, the head of Rwanda's criminal investigations department, Theo Badege, said at a press conference in the capital.
"The information and evidence obtained after the arrest of Mugemangango led to the identification and arrest of several other suspects in connection with the terrorist network," Badege said.
Jihadist preaching materials like books, CDs and social network messages were collected as evidence, he said, without giving details on the unknown number of arrests.
The group’s immediate aim was to offer radicalized people the option to join Islamic State. "The group is part of the network operating in the region and beyond," Badege told journalists in Kigali, adding that some of the suspects managed to flee the country.
Mugemangango, 39, worked as a deputy imam at the Kimironko mosque in Kigali and was an inspector at the Rwanda Education Board.
His death was the first report of an Islamist presence in overwhelmingly Christian Rwanda, where only about 2 per cent of the 11-million population are Muslim.
One of Rwanda’s main Muslim associations, Rwanda Muslims, said it would start circulating messages against radicalization of the country’s youth following the incident.