Gunmen have shot dead an influential Kenyan Muslim leader in the port city of Mombasa.

Mombasa police Chief, Robert Kitur, said Mohamed Idris, Chairperson of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, was shot in the stomach shortly before dawn as Idris headed to prayers at a mosque.

Idris had apparently urged the police to deal with militant elements at his mosque, leading some to brand him a traitor.

Several prominent Muslim clerics have been shot dead in unexplained circumstances in recent years.