Kenya lawmakers investigate mall massacre as leaders mourn dead
By Peter Martell, AFPNAIROBI--Kenyan lawmakers probing apparent security lapses during the deadly assault on Nairobi's Westgate mall by Islamist gunmen started work Tuesday as inter-faith prayers were held for the 67 confirmed killed.
October 2, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
As shopkeepers complained their stores in the upmarket shopping center had been completely looted, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced an investigation into the security implications of the massacre claimed by the Shebab, an al-Qaida linked Somali group.
“We are putting in place a commission of inquiry to see if we could have done things better, to see if there were lapses,” Kenyatta said at prayers led by leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities.
Politicians from parliament's national security and defense and foreign relations committees visited the mall on Monday afternoon, picking their way through shattered glass and pools of congealed blood in the main hall.
Thirty-nine people are still missing, according to the Red Cross, a week after Kenyan forces brought an end to the four-day bloodbath.
Kenyan and foreign investigators continue to comb the carcass of the mall for clues on the perpetrators and their operating methods.
Dalmas Otieno, a member of the national security committee, said lawmakers would on Tuesday “set up a program” for investigations expected to last several weeks at least.
Former Prime Minster Raila Odinga, speaking at the memorial, warned that the attack “shows we are in for a long, drawn-out battle,” and stressed the need to bolster security.
“Intelligence action not acted on serves no purpose,” Odinga said.
The Shebab has vowed more attacks if Kenya does not pull its troops out of Somalia but Kenyatta offered a defiant riposte.
“We will not be intimated, we will not be cowed,” Kenyatta said. “We will stay there until they bring order to their nation.”
Shops Ransacked, Goods Stolen
Shopkeepers allowed back into the mall to check on their premises painted an apocalyptic scene, saying it stank of corpses and that the first floor of the mall was completely burned.
“There's a really bad stench in there of the dead bodies and blood all over the place, that's why they're advising us to wear masks as we go in,” Pardeep Rehal, a bookstore owner, told AFP.