* Residents say mall raiders bring Somalia's war to Kenya
* Nairobi's Somali district Eastleigh saw riots last year
* Police patrol Mombasa, which has large Muslim community
* Multi-ethnic Kenya has had secessionist stirrings on coast
By Kevin Mwanza
NAIROBI, Sept 22 In the shabby "Little
Mogadishu" quarter of Kenya's capital, Somalis feared the
militant attack on a Nairobi shopping mall could trigger a
violent backlash against them.
Islamist group al Shabaab said it carried out the raid on
the Westgate centre, that killed at least 68 people, in revenge
for Kenya's military campaign against its fighters in Somalia.
In the congested Eastleigh neighbourhood, memories were
still fresh of the mobs who targeted homes and shops in November
after a suspected al Shabaab attack on a minibus killed nine.
"A mob of youths can ... attack us like last time," said
Mohamed Warsame, sitting next to a stall selling "khat" leaves,
which are chewed as a stimulant across the Horn of Africa.
The elderly man said he expected the police would at least
mount more raids to round up illegal immigrants and suspected
Groups of Somali men talked in hushed tones and at one
electronics shop, the owner changed channel to switch from the
live coverage of the mall assault drama to a tennis match.
"I don't think those people who attacked the mall are true
Muslims. Islam does not support killing of the innocent. Anyone
who kills an innocent person has killed humanity," said a woman
in her 40s who would only gave her first name, Zuleka.
She said she had lived in Kenya for more than a decade, one
of thousands of ethnic Somalis who have fled years of war and
turmoil to seek a better life in east Africa's biggest economy.
A shoe seller who declined to give his name said the
Westgate mall raiders were bringing Somalia's war to Kenya. "The
reason we're here is because of such people who have invaded our
country (Somalia)," he told Reuters.
"Now they're coming here to make our lives miserable."
There are also concerns Saturday's attack will badly dent
tourism and investment in Kenya.
"This will be bad for business here. Some of the shops here
will have to close," said Farrah Abdi, an 19-year-old ethnic
Somali and a mobile phone shop attendant in Eastleigh. He said
he was born there and had never been to Somalia.
"I consider myself more of a Kenyan ... My whole life is
The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims condemned the raid on
the mall as a "heinous terror attack" and called for Kenyans not
to divide along sectarian lines.
Somalia's ambassador, Mohamed Ali Nur, appealed to Kenyans
not to target Somalis. He told Citizen TV he was about to attend
a funeral of the wife of a Somali killed in the mall attack.
"Here in Kenya we have Somali citizens who live here, as
refugees, business people, students. We do not want them to be
harmed in anyway ... I want to repeat that Kenya and Somalia are
together in this, we should not be separated," he said.
"WE HAVE SEEN THE DEVIL"
Muslims make up barely 11 percent of Kenya's 40-million
strong population which is made up of a patchwork of ethnic
But Islam has long been the predominant religion along its
eastern coast - and there have been sporadic outbursts of
sectarian violence in the port city of Mombasa.
There have been attacks against Christian churches and
police, some blamed on an outlawed coastal group, the Mombasa
Republican Council (MRC), which wants to secede from Kenya.
Coastal Muslims complain that they have lost land and jobs
to settlers from inland, while seeing little of the wealth
generated by tourism on their beaches and traffic at their port,
which serves most of east and central Africa.
Police trucks filled with armed officers patrolled major
Mombasa streets on Sunday, while local politicians and religious
leaders appealed for Kenyans of all faiths to stay calm.
"This is an attempt to drive a wedge between Muslims and
other religious groups in Kenya, but we want to tell those
terrorists that we are brighter and aware of their intentions,
and that we will not succumb," Mombasa senator Hassan Omar said.
Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu, speaking during a Sunday
service in Mombasa, called for unity and prayers.
"We have seen the devil in his true colours. Our faith as
Kenyans has been tested," he said. "Let us unite as a Kenyan
family in this grief, regardless of our religious affiliations."