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Monday, December 6, 2010

Kenya arrests hundreds of foreigners after attacks

By Humphrey Malalo


NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan police have arrested 346 foreigners in Nairobi in a major operation after two separate grenade and gun attacks last week killed three policemen, officers said on Monday.


In the first attack, unidentified men lobbed a grenade into a police vehicle in Nairobi's predominantly Somali suburb of Eastleigh, killing one officer. In the second, two men shot dead two traffic policemen when they had been pulled over.

Anthony Kibuchi, Nairobi's provincial police chief, told Reuters that 52 of those arrested were Ethiopians while the rest were of Somali origin.

"The security operation on aliens was carried out all over Nairobi," Kibuchi said. "We have come out with more stringent measures to ensure holiday festivities are free of any incidents and appeal to members of the public to cooperate with police."

Some security analysts say sympathisers of Somalia's al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group may have been behind the attacks.

Kenyan police have been cracking down on illegal immigrants within Eastleigh in recent weeks and have also been targeting suspected Ethiopian rebels sheltering in the country, both in the north and the capital Nairobi.
Police said on Saturday it was too early to establish a link between the two attacks on Friday but they were not ruling out a militant attack.

Kenyan police also said they had asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to help probe the attacks.
The FBI helped neighbouring Uganda investigate al Shabaab's twin bomb attack on the east African nation's capital Kampala that killed 79 people in July.

Twice hit by al Qaeda-linked attacks, Kenya has long cast a wary eye at its lawless neighbour Somalia, where warlords and Islamist insurgents have reduced the government to impotence.

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