The upscale stores of the shopping mall attacked in a terrorists plot in Kenya, were reportedly looted by government soldiers. In the terrorist attack that killed 67 people, government troops were dispatched to track the suspected gunmen. Some shop owners have blamed the troops for missing items ranging from expensive jewelry and iPads to designer sunglasses.
“The whole place has been done over,” said Tariq Harunani an optician. He owns an eyeglass store which sells frames for eyeglasses and other eyewear. When he was allowed back into his store by officials, he was horrified to see it had been stripped of most of its possessions. “The watch counters have been cleared, the jewelry shop is empty, there’s no jewelry on the necklace stands,” he said.
Other shop owners came forward expressing the same sentiment as Harunani. One bookstore owner reported that she was missing laptop computers and money from her store. However, the books were left in place at her business. Some store owners were hesitant to blame the government soldiers and stated they were uncertain who took the items after the attack.
Government military soldiers secured the area after the attack in Kenya and are blamed for looting the mall stores. The mall had been known as a luxury mall in which many non-Muslims did their shopping. It is proposed that al Shabaab, an al Qaeda faction, was behind the attack. Many speculate that the faction is Somalia-based and have often participated in this form of terrorist activity.
One witness went as far as to say that a government soldier was seen taking cigarettes out of the pockets of a dead man. Store owners say they know who is behind this, but feel they are powerless to do anything. “The military secured the place and in that time the place is emptied,” said Harunani. “This is Kenya. Let’s just face it, what’s lost is lost.”
“We wish to affirm that government takes very seriously allegation of looting and that those found to have engaged in looting will be prosecuted,” said Interior Minister Ole Lenku in a statement to the media. The government has been aware of previous allegations that its soldiers looted during Nairobi’s airport fire.
The Red Cross of Kenya was also active in the area after the attack and has reported 39 missing people. The agency was active in clearing rubble and searching for bodies. Government soldiers assisted with the evacuation of over a thousand people from the area. Mall security personnel have faced scrutiny in the attack and remain under a cloud of suspicion in regard to the attack.
Government soldiers in Kenya accused of looting mall stores were actively hunting the gunmen, 10 to 15 individuals, reported to have perpetrated the act. The Kenyan government officials have said that investigations will reveal the real story of the mall incident.
By Thomas Barr