Looting? Bags were for water, claims military

Tuesday October 22 2013

By FRED MUKINDA
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Military chiefs Tuesday defended soldiers who were captured on CCTV carrying white shopping bags from the Westgate mall while it was under siege by terrorists.

Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Cyrus Oguna explained that the soldiers were carrying bottles of water and had been authorised to pick them from Nakumatt supermarket.

“That is the position and it’s the truth. They had been authorised and after walking out of the supermarket, they distributed it to their colleagues who were on the first floor,” he said.

Colonel Oguna further said that the information was presented to members of the National Security and Defence committees that interviewed the security chiefs at Parliament buildings Tuesday.

Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi led the officers at the joint session of parliamentary committees.

He was accompanied by his deputy Samson Mwathethe and other senior officers including Colonel Oguna.

Other security chiefs present were National Intelligence Service director-general Michael Gichangi, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and director of criminal investigations Ndegwa Muhoro.

The committees asked the security chiefs questions arising from independent reports they had presented on Thursday last week.

One of the reports revealed that the terrorist attack was planned at the Daadab refugee camp.

Last week, the MPs exonerated the military from blame citing preliminary investigations.

National Security committee chairman Asman Kamama revealed that the money secured from the banks in the mall was transferred to other branches.

These were Barclays Bank (Sh68 million), Diamond Trust Bank (Sh65 million), Kenya Commercial Bank (Sh31 million) and CFC Stanbic (Sh32 million).

The Millionaires Casino had Sh50 million, which was also secured.

“It is also not correct that the security men consumed alcohol during the siege,” the MP also said.

Cabinet secretaries Joseph ole Lenku (Interior) and Raychelle Omamo (Defence) also appeared before the committees.

Security officials from the police, military and intelligence have been engaging in blame game, albeit away from public limelight, over the terror attack.

NIS claims that it had warned in advance that terrorists were planning to strike but police insist that the intelligence briefs were too general to warrant a precise action.

GSU officers and soldiers who responded to the attacked clashed at the mall, resulting to friendly fire in which Constable Martin Kithinji was killed, raising concerns that the operation was not well coordinated.

Defence committee chairman Ndung’u Gethenji said the final report would contain recommendations aimed at ensuring Kenyans are safe from terrorists.