Monday, November 19, 2012
NAIROBI, Kenya – Inter-ethnic clashes broke out on Monday in Nairobi over a bus bomb blamed on sympathisers of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents, leaving several people wounded.
An AFP reporter at the scene said police used tear gas and fired into the air to contain the violence, in Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali district of Nairobi where a bomb that went off on Sunday on a bus killed seven and wounded many more.
A day after the blast, non-Somali Kenyans turned on Somalis and attacked their shops and stalls, accusing them of being responsible for the bomb.
No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.
“There is chaos. Several people have been injured but we are doing everything possible to contain the riots,” Moses Nyakwama, Nairobi Police chief told AFP by phone.
Most businesses in the area remained closed and roads were blocked for part of the morning as youths from the two communities staged running battles. Several motorists were stoned in their cars.
An AFP reporter at the scene counted seven people being rushed to hospital. Bystanders said several others had been taken for treatment earlier in the morning.
“Three of my relatives have been taken to hospital after they were beaten up, we are being accused of causing insecurity and bombings, yet we don’t know who is doing it, let the government protect us,” Abdulahi Hassan, a trader, said.
“I closed my shop and stayed in front to guard it after we were attacked by youths throwing stones,” said Ali Sheikh Ahmed, who sells gold and jewellery.
“Around 30 boys with sticks and machetes came to destroy our market, but we fought back,” textile seller Asha Hirsi told AFP.
“We are not Shabaab members and we are not accountable for their actions,” she said.
Kenya has suffered a wave of grenade and gun attacks, often blamed on sympathisers of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents, since its army went into Somalia last year to flush out the Shabaab.
The Eastleigh area, known as Little Mogadishu because of its predominantly Somali population, has often been a target of the violence.
On Wednesday, a suspected grenade attack in a supermarket there wounded one person, and two weeks earlier another explosive device went off, wounding two.
Earlier this month, attackers hurled a grenade into a church in the northeastern town of Garissa, close to the Somali border, killing one policeman and wounding 14 people.
Kenyan troops, now integrated into an African Union force, seized the Shabaab bastion of Kismayu in September, a key southern Somali port, prompting warnings of retaliation from both the insurgents and their Kenyan supporters.