Kenyan troops have been strongly suspected in the disappearance of store items at the Westgate mall in Nairobi which was recently under siege by terrorist forces.
One witness told The Associated Press that he saw a Kenyan soldier take cigarettes out of a dead man’s pocket.
Shopkeepers spent Monday carting merchandise and other valuables out of their stores and restaurants to prevent any more thefts. No one can say for sure who is responsible, but Kenya’s security forces are strongly suspected.
Soon after the attack began on Sept. 21, Kenyan officials put a cordon around the mall, allowing only security forces and a few government personnel to pass through.
Since then, alcohol stocks from the restaurants have been depleted. One business owner at the mall said money and mobile phones were taken from bags and purses left behind in the mayhem. The owner insisted on anonymity to avoid retribution from Kenya’s government.
Employees of a book shop on the mall’s second floor returned to find registers yanked open and cash gone. The store’s laptops were also stolen. All the shop’s books remained in place, said owner Paku Tsavani.
Perhaps reluctant to blame Kenyan security forces, Tsavani said he doesn’t know who took his goods.
“Obviously the terrorists wouldn’t steal those things, so we just don’t know,” Tsavani said.
Sandeep Vidyarthi went into the mall Sunday to help a relative retrieve equipment from his dental practice. Inside he said he passed shop after shop that had been looted, including the Rado store that sells high-end Swiss watches.
As he was leaving the mall, Vidyarthi passed a jewelry shop near the front entrance. The owner, he said, was presenting security officials with a long list of missing precious stones and high-end necklaces.
“The jeweler had written down this very long list,” he said.
It is ironic, said the management team of one Westgate business, that store owners must now make reports of stolen goods to the same security forces suspected of doing the thieving.