By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
NAIROBI, Kenya—Early this morning, Kenyan police fired tear gas to end a number of riots that broke out in its capital city after a grenade blast, on Sunday, killed at least seven people. Many shops were looted in the neighborhood of Eastleigh, a primarily Somali neighborhood, as the angry youths blamed the ethnic Somalis for Sunday’s explosion. Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked group, al-Shabab, is specifically blamed for this attack, as they have been held accountable for numerous attacks in Kenya in recent years.
Al-Shabab, a militant group, has vowed large-scale attacks in Nairobi after Kenya sent its own military forces into Somalia last year. There have been a series of explosive attacks over the last year that have killed and wounded dozens of people and have been responsible for raising ethnic tensions in the region.
The riots were carried out by demonstrators who were venting their frustration over a bomb attack in the same neighborhood yesterday. Maurice Ouma, a witness to the bombing and the riots, said, “It’s unfortunate that now people we’re hosting are actually turning against us.”
Regional Police Commander Moses Ombati, said, “We are worried the number of casualties could be higher since there were two more vehicles behind after an explosion on a 25-seater mini bus which was blown up by the explosive device.” He further noted, “Several have been rushed to the hospitals and we expect the number of casualties to be higher since there were also some passerby and bystanders who were also hit.”
The injured were rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital for treatment resulting in an appeal for blood drives to help the victims of the grenade attack.
Tensions are running high in the region as Kenyan residents are beginning to attack Somalis whom they suspect are responsible for the rising insecurity of the country that has effected the “residential estate in the recent past.” Commander Ombati noted that security forces have been deployed in the neighborhood of Eastleigh in order to contain the violence. The police have also launched a major crackdown to apprehend and bring to justice, those behind the deadly attacks.
For further information, please see:
BBC News – Kenya Grenade Attack: Somalis Attacked in Nairobi – 19 November 2012
CoastWeek – Nairobi Police Fear More Deaths After Blast in Eastleigh Suburb – 19 November 2012
DW – Riots in Kenya Over Bus Bomb – 19 November 2012
Washington Post – Kenya Police Fire Bullets, Tear Gas As Riot Breaks Out – 19 November 2012