MARSABIT, Kenya, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police on Saturday arrested an Imam for his alleged role in recruitment and radicalization of unsuspecting youth into violent extremism in north Kenya's Marsabit County.
Regional police commander Phillip Tuimur said Guyo Gorsa was arrested in a sting security operation in Marsabit early Saturday.
He said the suspect was the one who recruited youths that were recently arrested on their way to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The police commander said the youths who were charged in a Nairobi court made confessions and named the Imam as the one who radicalized them before sending them to neighboring Somalia.
Chaos erupted in Marsabit town as a group of youngsters, mostly Gorsa's students, destroyed a local church, looted properties and torched several buildings as they protested the arrest.
Several people were injured as security officers engaged the youth in running battles in the town.
"It is unfortunate that as a result of this police action, some sympathizers of the suspect who are opposed to his arrest have resorted into setting fire on clubs and destroying property suspected to belong to those who don't support his activities in Marsabit," Tuimur said.
The Imam suspected to having links with radical groups was arrested in the coastal region three years ago over suspicion of radicalizing the youth but was later released.
The Al-Shabaab militant group has continued to forcibly recruit people into its ranks, including children, and to target individuals perceived to support both the Kenyan and Somali governments.