NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – Several people were injured following inter-ethnic clashes in Eastleigh that went on for the better part of Monday, after a deadly blast a day earlier claimed eight lives.
Regiments of regular, Administration Police and General Service Unit (GSU) personnel spent the day in running battles with residents of Eastleigh who clashed with their Somali counterparts.
Shops remained close all day as a cloud teargas hang over Eastleigh’s First and Second Avenue.
A number of shops were looted in the mayhem.
The clashes started after residents in the area turned against Somalis accusing them of being behind a wave of grenade attacks and explosions in the area.
No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s blast and the resultant xenophobic attacks were strongly criticised.
At least nine Kenyan Somali women were said to have been raped in the bedlam that gripped the estate.
According to a section of Muslim clerics in Eastleigh, many other people were been beaten by non-Somalis for activities committed by criminals.
Led by Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim, they condemned the backlash suffered by Somalis in Eastleigh following the attack on Sunday and called on communities to maintain peace and let the law take its course.
Sheikh Ibrahim who addressed reporters at a hotel in Eastleigh also condemned the attack on Sunday terming it a ‘barbaric act.’
Ibrahim insisted that the long years of good relations between communities living there should not be ruined by acts of terror.
“We the Muslim community condemn the repercussions by ignorant individuals who are targeting Muslims especially Somalis primarily due to their religion. People have been beaten and others raped; we are all Kenyan citizens and are equal before the law,” he told reporters.
“We consider the attack on the matatu to be inhuman; the perpetrators do not represent the Islamic faith. Islam is a religion of peace and mercy. Let us be smart because those behind the attack want us to rise up against each other,” he added.
The attacks have also drawn reactions from the leaders, who urged for peaceful coexistence of all Kenyans.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in a posting on Facebook urged for calm in the area saying that acts of terrorism could neither be apportioned to a tribe nor a religion.
“My brothers and sisters in Eastleigh, let us please maintain peace and calm. We cannot allow terrorist activities to divide us. Terrorism has no religion or community. By turning against one another, we are letting terrorism win,” Kenyatta wrote.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) also in a statement appealed to residents to let law enforcers conduct proper investigations Sunday’s blast.
“ODM would like to extend our deep felt condolences to the families and friends of the deceased as well as the injured. We would also like to appeal to the public not to take the law in their own hands. No ethnic or racial profiling should occur to mar the efforts of the security forces in apprehending the criminals,” the statement read.
The Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) also spoke against blast and called on the government to apprehend both those behind the attack as well as those leading reprisals against Somalis.
“The xenophobic attacks must be stopped at all costs lest they escalate to unmanageable mayhem at grave costs to the nation. The explosion must be seen for what it was, a terrible criminal act by criminals – individuals and not a community,” read a statement from MHRF chairman Al-Amin Kimathi.