Kenyan police have arrested more than 650 suspects a day after six people were killed in bomb attacks in the capital Nairobi, the interior minister said.
“This act of cowardice perpetrated against innocent and peace-loving Kenyans who were going about their normal activities is barbaric,” Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement Tuesday.
“So far 657 suspects have been apprehended,” he added.
Kenyan police regularly arrest scores of people after similar attacks in sweeping security operations, but later release most after questioning. The Tuesday crackdown comes after the Kenyan government placed new restrictions on Somali refugees living in the country following a deadly gun attack on a church last week.
The arrests were related to three blasts on Monday evening that targeted two small restaurants and a local clinic in a particularly densely populated section of Nairobi, Eastleigh, which is often called “Little Mogadishu” because of its predominantly Somali population.
No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts.
Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Nairobi, said the city had grown more tense in the last week after the government ordered all refugees, most of whom are Somali, to leave urban areas and head to two designated refugee camps.
The order followed the deaths of six people in a gun attack on a church service a week ago in the port city of Mombasa.
“The government says that’s because some of the people responsible for recent attacks have been refugees,” Page said.
“The people of Eastleigh argue they are suffering collective punishment for the actions of a few,” she added.
Six people were killed when assailants burst into the church near the port city of Mombasa and opened fire on worshippers.
Kenya has been hit by a series of attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia in October 2011 to battle al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab rebel group.
The armed group claimed responsibility for the most deadly attack, in which they laid siege to Nairobi’s upmarket shopping mall Westgate in September, killing at least 67.