19 October 2013

Kenya: Soldiers At Westgate - in With Rifles, Out With Goodies

Nairobi — It is now evident that officers of the Kenya Defence Forces involved in the Westgate rescue operation engaged in looting, as seen in CCTV footage extensively aired on television.

The footage shows the KDF officers entering the Nakumatt store armed to the teeth.

A while later, the soldiers casually walk out of the supermarket with plastic shopping bags in one hand and rifles in the other. It remains a mystery what they were each carrying.

The footage also shows empty beer bottles after the siege laid on the tables of one of the restaurants inside the mall. Cash registers are also seen opened, and bullets were fired at safes in an attempt to force them open.

Shop owners who returned to the mall after the siege said their shops were ransacked. In one instance a soldier is seen trying to open a display with jewellery but fails.

The revelation comes even after Defence Secretary Raychelle Omamo earlier denied the accusations saying that there was no looting and that the allegations were alarming and needed prompt action.

"KDF's conduct inside the mall was guided by international Standard Operating Procedures that govern such missions. The allegations therefore came to us with consternation and we as a ministry are committed to get to the bottom of it," she had said.

The soldiers weren't the only ones involved in the looting. A Kenyan police constable was charged with theft after he was found with a bloodstained wallet and credit cards stolen from a victim of the Westgate attack.

The four-day siege left hundreds injured and more than 60 people killed and property worth millions looted.

Although there were many cases of heroism by Kenyans who rescued survivors from the mall, there is growing outrage at evidence that those responsible for rescuing them had engaged in such activities.

The reports of looting have also caused widespread anger on social media.

Some of the messages say; "Kenyans work hard and pay all money to government as taxes... Others laze around in barracks waiting for war by robbing the dead and dying," one Kenyan tweeted.

Another said, "I expect Raychelle Omamo to give a statement tomorrow slamming those officers who appear to have tainted #KDF inside #Westgate."

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