October 4, 2013 (NAIROBI) - Kenya’s military has come under heavy criticism as evidence emerged that soldiers deployed inside Westgate mall after the shopping centre was attacked by terrorists on 21 September were involved in looting.
The soldiers allegedly looted expensive suits, laptops, smart phones, and perfumes, while drinking beers, breaking open safes and even plucking wallets from the pockets of the dead.
According to media reports the looting was caught on camera by CCTV in the mall and that the footage is now in possession of the Kenyan intelligence service.
On Thursday, Kenya’s defence ministry issued a statement saying it would investigate the allegations, appealing for further information from members of the public.
“We appeal for public participation in availing information and evidence pointing to any KDF [Kenya Defence Forces] personnel engaging in unprofessional conduct during the siege at the mall”, the ministry said in the statement.
“The ministry of defence is committed to get to the bottom of this matter”, the statement adds.
Social media in Kenya has been abuzz with jokes about the alleged looting at the mall which was the scene of the country’s worst terror attack since 1998 when Al-Qaeda terrorists simultaneously attacked the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania, killing approximately 212 people in Nairobi and wounding 4,000.
“The KDF soldiers who stole were probably led by a Lootent General”, joked one twitter user using the handle @JMOxQ.
Kenya’s defence secretary, Raychelle Omamo, has appealed for those who may have information about soldiers involved in the misconduct to come forward.
Meanwhile, a committee in Kenya’s parliament has been set up to investigate and compile a report on the terror attack.
About 65 people were killed and 175 others injured when the Al-Shabaab fighters attacked the Westgate mall.
The Somali Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which it says it carried out in response to the presence of Kenyan troops inside Somalia.