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Africa

Police detain five over Kenya's Westgate mall massacre

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-10-29

Kenyan police said Tuesday they were holding five suspects in connection with a September attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall that left at least 67 people dead while two Kenyan soldiers faced charges for looting at the mall during the stand-off.

Kenyan police said Tuesday they are holding five people over last month's attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall, while two soldiers were court martialed for looting during the attack.

At least 67 people were killed in the attack on the upmarket mall claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

Ndegwa Muhoro, head of Kenya's Police Criminal Investigation Department, told reporters that investigations were still ongoing into exchanges of text messages in the days prior to the bloody four-day siege that began on September 21.

"We wanted to arraign five of the terrorists in court yesterday, but we have decided to first investigate an SMS exchange of the terrorists which occurred on September 17," Muhoro said.

"There are various issues which need thorough investigation, we cannot rush to court."

Muhoro added that some of the massacre suspects were arrested in Kenya's northwestern desert refugee camp of Kakuma, a vast settlement home to over 125,000 refugees from across the region, including Somalia.

However, all gunmen -- totalling just four, not the dozen that security forces had initially reported -- are understood to have died during the attack.

"Interpol is also assisting us in the investigations, including the analysis of four bodies suspected to be of the terrorists," Muhoro said.

Meanwhile Kenya's army chief Julius Karangi said that two soldiers have been court martialed and sacked for looting stores during the siege.

Shop owners -- including a top end jewellery store as well as others selling mobile telephones, watches, cameras, expensive suits and lingerie -- said their stores were completely looted.

"The allegations of KDF (Kenya Defence Force) soldiers looting are very serious and we have undertaken to carry out a thorough investigation," Karangi told reporters.

But he dismissed looting reports based on security camera footage that showed soldiers carrying away plastic bags loaded with goods from the supermarket, where it is understood scores were executed by the gunmen, and where they made their final stand against security forces.

Those seen carrying bags were taking only drinking water from the supermarket with the manager's permission, Karangi claimed.

Detectives are continuing to investigate a possible link to Norway, Muhoro said, noting that a telephone call was made to the country from the mall during the attack.

A Norwegian citizen of Somali origin is suspected of being one of the attackers, a 23-year-old named in media reports as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow.

Norway's PST intelligence agency has said it has investigated reports about the possible involvement of a Norwegian of Somali origin in both planning and carrying out the attack, but has declined to comment if Dhuhulow was involved.

Witnesses in the mall described how the fighters stormed the crowded complex firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff.

The gunmen coldly executed scores of people, with witnesses recounting how in some cases they called out to those wounded, then finished them off at close range.

In Somalia, efforts continue to target the Shebab, with a US drone strike killing the extremists' top suicide bomb-maker on Monday.

The missile strike follows a raid by US Navy SEALS on Somalia's southern port of Barawe in early October that failed to hit its alleged target: a senior Shebab militant leader and Kenyan of Somali origin called Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima. He is also alleged to have links to Norway.

(AFP)

 

Date created : 2013-10-29

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