Rioters attack ethnic Somalis in Kenyan capital

Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:10pm EST
 
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By Richard Lough

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan police fired tear gas to disperse rioters who attacked ethnic Somalis in the Nairobi district known as "Little Mogadishu" on Monday, hurling rocks and smashing windows after a weekend bomb attack there killed nine people.

The violence coincided with the start of voter registration for a general election in March, adding to security concerns ahead of the first national polls since 2007 when a dispute over the results fuelled ethnic slaughter that killed more than 1,200 people and forced some 300,000 from their homes.

Angry mobs broke into Somali homes and shops in anger at Sunday's attack on a minibus which killed at least nine people in Nairobi's Eastleigh district which is dominated by Somali Kenyans and their ethnic kin who have fled fighting in Somalia.

Ethnic Somalis, some armed with machetes, fought back and hurled rocks at their attackers who responded with sling shots and stones. Paramilitary police fired volleys of teargas to prise the battling factions apart.

"We are trying to create a buffer zone so that people cannot cross over," Nairobi regional police commander Moses Ombati told reporters, pointing to a road that he said formed a rough boundary between the two communities.

"These people are neighbors and business partners who need each other, so I don't think it will last long," he said.

Gangs of looters ran amok as the security forces fought to quell the violence. One Somali trader, who gave her name only as Hamdi for fear of reprisal attacks, said she was worried the unrest would spread throughout Eastleigh's rundown estates.

"I condemn anyone who carried out this heinous act," she said, referring to Sunday's bomb attack. "It's affecting many innocent civilians and is causing the Somali community to be targeted."   Continued...

 
A female rioter runs away after throwing stones at the police during the second day of skirmishes in the Eastleigh neighbourhood of Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 19, 2012. Police fired tear gas to disperse Kenyans who threw stones and broke into the homes and shops of ethnic Somalis in Nairobi's Somali-dominated Eastleigh neighbourhood on Monday to protest against a bomb attack in the district on Sunday. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya