The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

October 1, 2013

Shopkeepers suspect troops in thefts

NAIROBI, Kenya — Jewelry cases smashed. Mobile phones ripped from displays. Cash registers emptied. Alcohol stocks plundered.

For the second time in two months, poorly paid Kenyan security forces that moved in to control an emergency are being accused of robbing the very property they were supposed to protect. First the troops were accused of looting during a huge fire in August at Nairobi’s main airport.

Now shop owners at Westgate Mall are returning to their stores after last week’s devastating terrorist attack to find displays ransacked and valuables stolen.

One witness said 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, owner Paku Tsavani said.

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