JOHANNESBURG –One of the few shops that Kenyan soldiers didn’t loot during last month’s siege by terrorists of a Nairobi shopping mall was a local shoe store, Bata, according to closed-circuit video footage.
Kenyan media have reported that soldiers began stealing almost as soon as they arrived on the scene shortly after the attack began, with assailants and some victims still inside.
The looting has outraged many Kenyans and embarrassed the military chiefs, who met Thursday to discuss the scandal.
A jewelry shop in the upscale shopping mall was emptied, with thousands of dollars in precious gems stolen. Security forces looted watch and clothing shops, grabbed cash from tills and ATMs and tried to shoot their way into a casino safe, according to local media reports.
Kenya’s Star newspaper reported that video showed three soldiers in the Nakumatt supermarket at 9.12 p.m. Sept. 21, the first day of the assault. One held a plastic bag open while another emptied the cash from first one till and then another into it.
The three walked out of the mall carrying shopping bags stuffed with cash.
Yet another soldier was seen walking out of the supermarket with two full shopping bags, heading toward the basement. Others strolled around the supermarket taking items from the shelves.
The reports of widespread looting follow another high-profile looting case by security and emergency officials on Aug. 7, when Nairobi’s main international airport went up in flames.
The mall looting took place as various security agencies disputed who was in charge at the mall. Lack of communication led to a chaotic response and incidents of security personnel being killed by friendly fire, local media has reported.
According to the Star, the military took control of the mall shortly after 7 p.m. “From 7.08 p.m. until 10.30 p.m., there are no gunshots coming from the mall. The footage shows different soldiers walking in and out with some stopping to chat,” the newspaper reported Thursday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered an investigation into security lapses after reports that police ignored intelligence warnings of a planned attack.
The Ministry of Defense issued a statement late Thursday after the meeting of military chiefs, saying soldiers were not the only security forces inside the mall, but that the ministry was determined to establish the truth about the accusations of looting.