Some residents accused police of using excessive force and arresting innocent people
NAIROBI – Kenyan police have arrested 657 suspects in Nairobi's mainly Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh following explosions that rocked the area one day earlier and killed six people.
"This act of cowardice perpetrated against innocent and peace-loving Kenyans who were going about their normal activities is barbaric; immediate action has been taken by our security agencies," Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement mailed to Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
Six people were killed and at least 25 others, including women and children, were injured late Monday when twin explosions hit Nairobi's Eatsleigh district.
Officials at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya's main public referral hospital, confirmed to AA that two blast victims were in critical condition.
The attacks targeted two restaurants that stand less than 200 meters away from each other on Eatsleigh's 12th Street.
The restaurants are among the district's few eateries that do not serve Somali cuisine and are mostly frequented by non-Somali Kenyans.
A police source close to the investigation also confirmed a third attack.
He said the attackers had thrown hand grenades at the two restaurants and a bus stop before fleeing the scene.
Secretary Lenku said the manhunt would continue until the perpetrators were arrested, urging residents to cooperate with security personnel and volunteer any information they had about the attacks.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blasts, but in the past, Somalia's Al-Shabaab militant group has been blamed for such attacks.
The East African nation has remained on high alert since militants attacked Nairobi's Westgate Mall in September of last year, killing 67 people.
The attack was claimed by Al-Shabaab, which said it was a reprisal for Kenyan military involvement in Somalia.
An otherwise busy neighborhood, Eastleigh was almost deserted on Tuesday with most residents remaining indoors.
Eyewitnesses and residents of 12th Street said police had conducted a security sweep in the neighborhood roughly two hours after the explosions, arresting scores of people.
"Police went from street to street. Some police were in civilian clothes, but most were in uniform," Mama Amina Abdi, who sells Khat on 10th street, told AA.
"Most of those I saw bundled into police vans were either found loitering or had been at night gatherings chewing Khat," the Khat seller added.
Some residents accused police of using excessive force and arresting innocent people.
"My family and I cannot venture out of our home compound. Not even to the shop, which is about 50 meters from home," Abdifatah Diriye, a Kenyan Somali and resident of 8th Street, told AA.
"I'm afraid of being arrested. Everyone is afraid," he said.
"I saw a neighbor beaten up by police on our street last night. He's Kenyan, but he had no documents when he was arrested," Diriye added.
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