Though they were assigned to be inside the Westgate Mall to control the siege, meagerly paid Kenyan troops have been accused of making the situation worse by allegedly stealing from the mall’s shops, Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku stated.
This is the second time the troops have been suspected in as many months, after being accused of looting Nairobi’s main airport following a huge fire in August.
Shop owners, who returned to their stores after last week’s tragedy, have discovered cash registers ripped out and valuables stolen.
Since Sept. 21, only security forces and a few government personnel have been permitted inside of the desecrated shopping center, where at least 67 people were killed and dozens more injured.
A business owner said money and phones were stolen out of bags abandoned at the scene. Restaurant owners found their bottles of alcohol depleted. One volunteer, Paresh Shah, told the Associated Press he saw a soldier taking cigarettes out of the pocket of a body on the way to the morgue.
“I could never do that, take a dead man’s cigarettes,” Shah said.
At a book shop, the owner returned to find cash registers missing money and laptops stolen, but the books were untouched. The owner of a jewelry shop presented officials with a long list of missing precious stones and high-end necklaces.
One business noted the irony of having to report the thefts to the same people who were suspected of committing the crimes.
The first photos from inside the opulent mall shows large sections swamped with water, massive destruction from gunfire, and the elevator buckled from fire. Three floors also collapsed during the dramatic four-day siege.
According to the Kenya Red Cross, 39 people are still missing following the tragedy.