Africa

Kenya's Westgate siege: MPs to quiz security chiefs

  • 27 September 2013
  • From the section Africa

Kenya's security chiefs have been summoned to appear before parliament's defence committee for questioning over the Westgate mall siege.

The BBC's David Okwembah says a blame game is playing out in the Kenyan media, with various security agencies pointing the finger at each other.

Sixty-seven people are known to have died in Saturday's attack. Kenya's Red Cross says 61 others are still missing.

Forensic experts are still combing the complex, looking for bodies and clues.

The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab says it was behind the attack, which was followed by a four-day siege at the upmarket mall in the Kenyan capital.

Kenya is in its third day of official mourning for both the civilian and military victims of the siege.

A senior government official told the Associated Press news agency that the army had caused the collapse of a section of the mall.

The official, who did not want to be named, said autopsies would show whether this had killed the hostages or whether they had already been murdered.

The BBC's Will Ross in Nairobi says there have been reports that the military had blown out a supporting column to bring the siege to an end - a controversial decision which, if confirmed, would raise the possibility that hostages' lives were seen as expendable.

'Jewellery missing'

As forensic experts are continuing their work, the job of moving rubble to recover any more bodies has not yet begun.

In another development, the International Criminal Court has rejected a request by Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto to delay his trial on charges of crimes against humanity until mid-October to let him help deal with the aftermath of the attack.

New photos revealing some of the damage at the Westgate shopping centre have been released.
They show how parts of the rooftop car park have collapsed down onto what is believed to be the supermarket area.
The manager of a jewellery shop allowed back into Westgate showed the BBC photos she took, showing that the store had been looted.
President Uhuru Kenyatta declared three days of official mourning this week. The funeral of his nephew and his nephew's fiancee took place in Nairobi on Friday.
Amongst the funerals held on Thursday was that of Mitul Shah at the Hindu Crematorium. A marketing executive, his firm was reportedly sponsoring the children's cooking competition taking place in the car park.

The court, which has already given him a one-week adjournment, said the trial must resume on 2 October. Mr Ruto denies the charges.

The heads of the various security agencies have been summoned to appear before the parliamentary defence committee on Monday, amid rising concern over the authorities' preparedness for such an attack.

"The time for responsibility and accountability has come," committee chairman Ndung'u Gethenji is quoted by Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper as saying.

Local media have reported that National Intelligence Service boss Michael Gichangi, one of those asked to appear before the committee, passed on intelligence about a possible attack to the police.

But the Daily Nation says that a highly placed police source denied that such information was received.

Irene Anyango, manager of a Westgate jewellery shop, is one of the few people allowed into the mall following the end of the siege.

She said the mall was barely recognisable given the damage.

"It was a nightmare… and the shop was a totally different place," she told the BBC.

Ms Anyango said 90% of the jewellery was missing from the shop, which is now flooded.

"As far as we know for the last couple of days they were intact - we don't understand what's happening but they're not there," she said.

Many people not only face the trauma of losing family and colleagues but also the possibility of losing their jobs, she added.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is attending the funeral of his nephew and his nephew's fiancee at a church service in the capital, Nairobi, where he has addressed the congregation.

Mbugua Mwangi and Rosemary Wahito were among those killed in the mall on Saturday.

They are to be buried in Ichaweri village in Gatundu about an hour's drive from Nairobi.

On Thursday the funeral of pregnant television and radio star Ruhila Adatia-Sood was one of many funerals held.

Some 2,500 people paid their their respects to her and another woman killed in the siege.

They had been taking part in a children's cooking competition on the rooftop car park, when gunmen stormed the shopping centre.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of Somalia.

About 4,000 Kenyan troops have been sent to Somalia to help pro-government forces battle al-Shabab.

The group is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

Its members are fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia.

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