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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. In Kenya a recent rise in terror attacks and fears of an attack on Easter Sunday has provoked a countrywide crackdown on ethnic Somalis. Thousands of undocumented refugees, immigrants and Kenyan citizens of Somali descent have been arrested in recent weeks. NPR's Gregory Warner was out reporting in a Somali neighborhood in Nairobi when three police trucks pulled up carrying dozens of armed soldiers.

GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: A scene of total confusion here. It's right after Friday prayers and a couple of police trucks have pulled up right in the middle of Eastleigh which is a Somalian neighborhood of Nairobi. And they're basically just grabbing people and asking for their IDs. These women have - don't have their IDs. Apparently they left them at home and they're being questioned.

MOHAMMED ALI ISSAC: Just because they didn't get their IDs in pocket, that's why they are being held here.

WARNER: This is Mohammed Ali Issac, the women's cousin. Born with them in Kenya he shows me his own ID to prove it. Your hands are shaking a little bit. Are you a little bit...

ISSAC: Yeah, just because I'm nervous. Because if they take them then it's difficult to collect them unless you pay money.

WARNER: Pay a bribe which is higher on Fridays when police can threaten the whole weekend in a cell. At age 20 Issac is already a veteran of the struggle of growing up Somali in Kenya. While Kenya's home to hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees and many more ethnic Somalis who were born here, the community has always felt like outsiders.

AHMED MOHAMED: In Eastleigh we're used to police operations and police crackdown. But this is changing the face.

WARNER: Ahmed Mohamed is the Secretary General of the Eastleigh Business District Association with 20,000 members. I find him out here with the crowd in his blue blazer trying to negotiate with the police commander to stop these latest arrests. At the same time he's aiming to quell the growing anger of the crowd.

MOHAMED: But this is unprecedented. We never see such security forces during the daylight and during the Friday prayers.

WARNER: The police commander, Officer Kearich, tells me this is a normal police operation. It's part of the Kenyan police enforcement campaign that began last week in response to two terror attacks: a deadly bombing here in Eastleigh and a church shooting in the coastal city of Mombasa that killed six people. County assemblyman Asman Adow points out that none of these incidents have been linked to Somalis.

ASMAN ADOW: At least (unintelligible) the foot soldiers, none have them been Somalis.

WARNER: But the attack on Westgate Mall in September that killed at least 67 people was claimed by militants al-Shabaab. Some of those attackers used refugee cards to enter the country from Somalia. And since then some Kenyan politicians have dusted off an old xenophobic pledge to drive all Somali refugees back to Somalia, though the Kenyan high court recently declared that a violation of both Kenyan and international law.

SADIA: (Speaks foreign language)

WARNER: I met baby Mushen and his 24-year-old mother Sadia, who asked that I not use her last name, she was two months pregnant when special police officers forced their way into her apartment. She showed them her refugee card from the United Nations, the one that gives her protected status and the right to live in Nairobi. The officers told her that's no good and arrested her along with the baby and his two siblings age three and four.

SADIA: (Speaks foreign language)

WARNER: She had a miscarriage in prison two days later. She blames it on rough handling by the police and sleeping on a cold cell floor comforting her toddler. When the bleeding wouldn't stop two officials from the United Nations finally came to escort her to the hospital, but only long enough for a checkup, then back to her cell to spend a third night.

Back outside on the street police, in their daylight raid, have now filled up one of their three trucks with 32 people who don't have satisfactory ID. It includes a mother of a four-month-old baby hastily tossed into the arms of a relative. When that relative presents the swaddled baby to the crowd there's an angry roar.

Soon after, the negotiations with the commander seem to work. The police drive off with only the one truck loaded up, but the crowd lingers on.

FATUMAH HASSAN: (Speaks foreign language)

WARNER: My name is Fatumah Hassan, shouts one woman.

HASSAN: (Speaks foreign language)

WARNER: I was born in Garissa, that's in Kenya.

HASSAN: (Speaks foreign language)

WARNER: But I'll throw away my Kenyan ID and we will start fighting back. Gregory Warner, NPR News, Nairobi.

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