BY ZAHRA RASHID
Kenya has suffered a series of attacks — including grenade and bomb explosions — regularly pinned on members or sympathizers of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab.
Monday, December 17, 2012
The largely ethnic Somali and vibrant economic hub, Eastliegh, which is also believed to be acting as the hub for much of the commerce from Somalia faces tough times after a string of attacks blamed on Islamist militants.
Kenyan capital’s Eastliegh district busy with business, it is nicknamed “little Mogadishu” after the anarchic capital of Somalia, where so many here fled from to settle in, seeking a new and more peaceful life.
Last week, 6 people were killed and more than thirty seriously injured, among them the area, MP Mr Yusuf Hassan, who is currently in South Africa to Further treatment.
Last month, a bomb was hurled in a public vehicle killing 9 on the spot and about 27 nursing burns from the explosion.
The Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) and the General Service Unit(GSU) are reportedly carrying on a crackdown to flush out the criminal gangs, believed to Sympathizers of Somalia’s Linked Al-Qaeda- linked Al- Shabaab within the area.
The community is said to have battered by a harsh police crackdown to root out the hard core insurgents within the business district, capital of Kenya, Nairobi.
“Ethnic Somalis, irrespective of which passport they carry, have become a target for armed thugs across Kenya,” said Hassan Mohamud, a business man, and a Somali who does much of his business in Kenya.
There has been a heavy crackdown focused to distance both ethnic Somali Kenyans and refugees, many of whom fled war-torn Somalia to escape the extremist rule of the same militants they are now viewed as potential sponsors of.
“The people of Eastliegh are first attacked by bombs, and during the crackdown we are then mistreated by security forces, who round up people and arrest them indiscriminately,” added the businessman.
Senior security personnel mentioned that Kenya hosts over 516,000 Somali refugees, in the world’s largest refugee camp complex of Dadaab in the remote northeast province.
Development wise, Eastliegh has been neglected despite being in the heart of Kenya’s capital and generating the larger percentage of the country’s economy.
It is a dusty, bumpy streets without infrastructures, drainage and well equipped social amenities.
The business district is surrounded by high rise buildings, crowds selling fried spicy snacks and piles of fruits on the street markets, with traders from across East Africa coming to Eastliegh to strike deals.
According to an official figure, Kenyan- Somalis makes up at least 6 percent of the country’s population and also form a key part of the economy, with the estimated 500,000 people working in Eastliegh paying over $23 million in taxes a month.
Even so, the businessmen and the hoteliers have been complaining of the business dropping due to the series of attacks causing customers to flee the area, fearing for their lives and their properties.