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Raila faults police tactics used in Eastleigh

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has decried the tactics used by the government in the ongoing crackdown on terrorism following attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa.

In an exclusive interview in Boston, Massachusetts, Mr Odinga said he was disturbed by the way law enforcement agencies have targeted the Somali community while flushing out suspected terrorists and refugees in Eastleigh.

“The way the government has gone about in cracking down on suspected terrorists’ hideouts is not only wrong but counter productive in the long run. You can’t just unleash security organs on any Kenyan community on assumption that that community is involved in terrorism,” he said.

Mr Odinga said evidence has shown that people from all communities, and not just the Somali community, perpetrate acts of terrorism in Kenya.

“We have seen in the past that it was not just Somalis who are involved in acts of terrorism. We saw some young people from the Luo, Luhya, Kikuyu and other communities arraigned in court on suspicion of engaging in acts of terrorism,” he said.

Around 4,000 people have been arrested in police swoops  in Eastleigh over the last week.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku on Tuesday denied claims that Operation Usalama Watch was targeting ethnic Somalis. 

“There is nothing like targeting (of) Somalis. The mop up of criminals is going on across  Nairobi and Mombasa and will spread across the entire country to remove either illegal aliens or criminals in our country,” he said.

Mr Odinga said on Tuesday that what the government was doing amounted to profiling a particular community.

He  said even though he supports efforts aimed at reigning on rampant insecurity, the government must not engage in acts that mirror the Wagalla massacre in which hundreds of people from a particular community were killed by security forces.

Mr Odinga argued that the crackdown runs the risk of not only driving the suspects underground, but also help in recruiting more especially the sympathizers.

On Monday, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) had appealed to the Kenyan police force to respect the rights of all those arrested in the crackdown and to treat them in a humane manner.