NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – They came out in full force – about 60 Muslim leaders and youths – all urging the government not to condemn an entire community but to thoroughly investigate and pursue few elements behind insecurity witnessed in Garissa and Eastleigh this week.
They filled up the room where they were to address a news conference, leaving little space for those who were to cover them.
They went ahead to accuse the country’s security forces of harassing locals, allegedly resulting in the death of three children.
One of the children allegedly died with a bullet lodged in the head.
Former MP Billow Kerrow alleged that businessmen in the northern town made losses to the tune of Sh500 million following the security operation which also saw the only maize mill in the area set ablaze.
Garissa town was tense on Tuesday as some residents engaged police and military officers in running battles. The officers had launched a massive security operation after three Kenya Defence Forces soldiers were gunned down by unknown attackers on Monday.
In Eastleigh, tension remained high following a second day of battles between Somalis and other communities over a terrorist attack on Sunday where an explosive device detonated inside a minivan full of passengers. Nine people died and others were injured.
“When somebody blows up a matatu, how do you conclude that it is the whole people of Eastleigh? How do you accuse a whole town of being guilty just because some people killed police officers?” asked Kerrow rhetorically.
Traders had to close shop after Garissa’s main market was torched while children stayed away from school as the violence entered its second day.
The leaders, who spoke for less than 30 minutes swapping seats so as to reach the journalists’ microphones, also made a passionate plea to Kenyans asking them to end the tribal profiling because it was injurious to the country.
Former Lagdera MP Mohammed Shidiye urged the government to own up and protect its citizens from the xenophobic attacks.
“When people were killed in Baragoi we did not see the security forces descending on the local people. So why are they doing that in Garissa? Why are they doing that in Eastleigh?” demanded Shidiye.