Leaders have called for peace and calm as rioting mobs went on the rampage following the Sunday bomb attack on a matatu in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb.
Nairobi PC Njoroge Ndirangu urged Muslims and Christians in the area not to attack each other as the death toll in the explosion rose to 10.
The PC was speaking as security officers arrested five people who were found looting. (SEE IN PICTURES: Riots in Eastleigh)
Addressing a press conference in his Nyayo House office, Nairobi, Mr Waweru said some criminals had taken advantage of the situation to loot.
He was accompanied by MP Yusuf Hassan of Kamukunji, in which Eastleigh lies, Housing assistant minister Margaret Wanjiru of Starehe and chairman of the Eastleigh business community, Mr Hassan Gullet.
The leaders warned that Eastleigh residents should not fall into the trap of terrorists and start fighting each other. (READ: Turning on Somalis foolish, self-defeating)
“These are terror acts and we are urging communities in the area to be calm as we go after these criminals,” the PC said.
Mr Hassan said that the youths who were engaging police in running battles were not from the area. “The hooligans are not from Kamukunji or the neigbouring Starehe, but from other parts of Nairobi,” he said.
The MP said Muslims and Christians had co-existed harmoniously for years in the area and urged them to resist being incited to attack each other.
He claimed that 10 women had been raped as a result of Monday’s skirmishes, which was concentrated in Eastleigh Section I.
At least nine people were injured and property worth millions of shillings destroyed when angry mobs went on the rampage in the wake of the matatu explosion.
Business premises closed for most of yesterday as police battled rioting youth who were targeting residents from the Somali community.
The running battles entered the second day despite the heavy presence of officers led by Nairobi Provincial Police Officer Moses Ombati.
The mostly young men were attacking and looting business premises. They also stoned motorists along the busy Juja Road. Police used tear gas and fired into the air to contain the violence.
“There is chaos. Several people have been injured, but we are doing everything possible to contain the riots,” said Mr Ombati. Most businesses in the area remained closed and roads were blocked for part of the morning.
Most of the victims sustained stab wounds while others were stoned. The Red Cross team was patrolling the area taking the injured victims to various hospitals.
The Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) on Monday condemned the explosion and the resultant xenophobic attacks. MHRF executive coordinator Al-Amin Kimathi termed the attacks senseless and unjustifiable.
“Three of my relatives have been taken to hospital after they were beaten up. We are being accused of causing insecurity and bombings, yet we don’t know who is doing it,” Mr Abdulahi Hassan, a trader, said.
“I closed my shop and stayed in front to guard it after we were attacked by youths throwing stones,” said Ali Sheikh Ahmed, who sells gold and jewellery. “We are not Al-Shabaab members and we are not accountable for their actions,” he added.
In another incident on Monday in Garissa, three soldiers in plainclothes were shot dead by unknown attackers while changing a flat tyre at a motor vehicle garage. (READ: Tension as gunmen kill 3 soldiers in Garissa)
And the British High Commission in Nairobi on Monday advised its citizens to avoid Eastleigh.