Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
KAMPALA, Uganda – Men in fatigues walked out of a store in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall like ordinary shoppers, holding plastic bags heavy with unknown items after Islamic extremists staged an attack. Others looked behind counters as they descended into the shopping center to fight the militants, and lifted items.
In security camera video seen by The Associated Press 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 previously denied any wrongdoing.
Soon after the attack began on Sept. 21 Kenyan officials put a security cordon around the mall, allowing only security forces and a few government personnel to pass through. When the attack was over, some who owned shops inside the mall complained of looting.
Mobile phones were ripped from displays, cash registers emptied, and even alcohol stocks plundered, according to AP reporters at the scene 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 massive 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 case of the Westgate attack, a team of Kenyan lawmakers that investigated the looting allegations cleared soldiers of any wrongdoing.
The Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibly for the mall attack, saying it was in retribution for Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia.