Two injured by blasts in Somali area of Nairobi

NAIROBI Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:43pm EST

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NAIROBI (Reuters) - Two loud blasts in quick succession injured two people near a mosque in the Somali-dominated Eastleigh area of the Kenyan capital Nairobi during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, police said.

The area has been the scene of numerous attacks which authorities suspect are the work of Somali Islamist groups that object to Kenya's armed incursion into neighboring Somalia. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

"There were two explosions and two people were injured near the Al Amin mosque in Eastleigh," Moses Ombati, Nairobi's police chief, told Reuters.

"The two injured were civilians, we are not sure who is behind the attack and we suspect it was grenades."

One person was injured in an grenade attack on Sunday, days after two separate strikes hit the Eastleigh area, injuring local lawmaker Yusuf Hassan.

Kenya has sent troops to pursue Somali militants it blamed for repeated security attacks and the kidnapping of two Western tourists within its borders.

Tensions have risen in the past two months in Eastleigh, commonly dubbed "Little Mogadishu" because of its large Somali population.

In November, street battles erupted between Kenyans and ethnic Somalis in Eastleigh after a bomb on a minibus killed seven people in the area.

Some of Eastleigh's population are refugees but many others are Kenyans of Somali ethnicity and illegal immigrants.

The wave of bombings, shootings and hand-grenade attacks blamed on Somali militants have hit the capital, the port city of Mombasa and towns near the frontier with Somalia, prompting Kenya on Tuesday to order all refugees and asylum seekers to report camps and to bar them from living in towns.

Mounting insecurity is a growing concern as the region's biggest economy prepares for a presidential election in March - the first poll since a contested 2007 vote which unleashed nationwide ethnic violence.

(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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