Africa

Kenya's General Karangi rebuffs army looting claims

  • 22 October 2013
  • From the section Africa

Kenya's army chief has denied his troops were involved in looting during last month's siege at a Nairobi mall.

Gen Julius Karangi told a parliamentary committee they had only taken water from a store in the Westgate Mall "to quench their thirst".

His remarks come after CCTV footage emerged of troops carrying shopping bags out of the Nakumatt store.

At least 67 people died when suspected al-Shabab militants stormed the Nairobi shopping centre on 21 September.

News agencies say the CCTV footage which was released over the weekend is taken inside the entrance to the Westgate mall's Nakumatt supermarket, which sells everything from food to televisions.

In one section of footage, several soldiers are seen walking out of the supermarket, past a blood-spattered floor, carrying plastic carrier bags.

In another clip, Kenyan soldiers can be seen next to a mobile phone outlet.

'With commanders' authority'

Gen Karangi was speaking to the joint committees on National Security and Defence, which are meeting behind closed doors.

He said soldiers had only "picked water from the Nakumatt store to quench their thirst" and that they had only done it "with authority from their commanders"

Commenting on other items that were taken away, Gen Karangi reportedly said this was "sanitisation to ensure their safety."

The Kenyan military says it has launched an investigation into the looting allegations, which correspondents say will have angered many Kenyans.

At the weekend, Kenya's biggest-selling newspaper, The Nation, ran an article entitled "Shame of soldiers looting Westgate".

The footage of the alleged looting emerged as the Kenyan authorities announced they had recovered the body of what they consider to be a fourth attacker.

The Westgate attack sparked a four-day siege in which large parts of the shopping centre were destroyed.