Security video appears to show Kenyan soldiers looting mall

REUTERS TV/Reuters - A still image taken from CCTV footage, obtained by Reuters on October 19, 2013, shows what appears to be soldiers carrying plastic shopping bags (top, right) as they leave the Nakumatt supermarket in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

KAMPALA, Uganda — Men in fatigues walked out of a store in Nairobi’s Westgate mall like ordinary shoppers, holding plastic bags heavy with items after Islamist extremists staged an attack. Others, as they descended on the shopping mall to fight the militants, looked behind counters and lifted merchandise.

In video taken by security cameras and viewed by the Associated Press on Sunday, some members of Kenya’s armed forces appeared to loot a store during the four-day siege of what used to be Nairobi’s most upscale mall. At least 67 people were killed in the attack.

Kenya’s security forces have denied any wrongdoing.

Soon after the attack began Sept. 21, Kenyan officials cordoned off the mall, allowing only security forces and a few government personnel to pass through. When the siege was over, some shop owners complained of looting.

Cellphones were ripped from displays, cash registers emptied and alcohol stocks plundered, according to AP reporters at the mall after the siege ended.

Public servants in Kenya, including police, firefighters and soldiers, are poorly paid and frequently accused of corruption.

An investigation into a huge fire at Nairobi’s airport in August revealed that first responders had looted electronics, a bank and an ATM during and after the blaze.

In the Westgate attack, Kenyan lawmakers who investigated the looting allegations cleared soldiers of wrongdoing.

The Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the mall siege, saying the attack was in retribution for Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia.

Local and foreign investigators have been digging through the rubble for evidence, and on Sunday a body thought to be that of an attacker was retrieved.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement that the body was the fourth that authorities “know from CCTV footage to be that of a terrorist. DNA and other investigations will confirm their identities.”

Four AK-47 assault rifles thought to have been used by the attackers were also recovered, the statement said.

“We continue to dig through the rubble at Westgate,” Lenku said. “We are determined to bring this chapter to a close by identifying the terrorists responsible for the attack, including those who planned it.”

Many questions, including what caused a part of the mall to collapse, remain unanswered. Kenyan officials have urged patience, saying they need more time to investigate the scene.

— Associated Press

 
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