Nairobi - Kenyan lawmakers investigating alleged security
failings during the deadly assault on Nairobi's Westgate mall by Islamist
gunmen inspected Monday the charred wreckage, where searches continue for 39
people still missing.
The four-day bloodbath at the upmarket shopping mall, which
Kenyan forces brought to an end on Tuesday, left at least 67 people dead.
Politicians from both the parliament's national security and
the defence and the foreign relations committee, visited the mall on Monday
afternoon, entering the main hall, its floor littered with shattered glass and
smeared in blood.
Shop owners reported their stores were looted during the
siege, and photographs they posted on social media - including from a luxury
jewelry shop - show shelves cleaned of goods.
The visit of the MPs launched the start of investigations,
which will involve their quizzing of Kenyan security chiefs over the handling
of the deadly raid.
"We have taken this matter extremely seriously,"
said Asman Kamama, head of the defence and the foreign relations committee.
"We want to promise you that as parliament we will
investigate, establish and see whether the people who were directly in charge
of our security slept on their jobs."
The Red Cross on Monday said the number of people still
unaccounted for stood at 39, dropping from the previous figure of 61, after
bodies were either identified, or those believed to have been missing were
found to have not been at the mall.
Kenyan and foreign investigators continued to comb the
carcass of the Westgate mall for clues on the perpetrators of the raid and
Part of the rooftop parking of the mall collapsed after
heavy explosions and a fierce fire, leaving the key area where the insurgents
are understood to have made their final stand - along with possible hostages -
buried under tons of concrete slabs and rubble.
"Government agencies have been conducting forensic and
criminal investigations, in addition, bomb experts continued with clearing the
building to ensure safe access," the Red Cross said in a statement.
"Heavy mechanical equipment began to move the rubble of
the collapsed building ahead of the search for bodies."
Kenya fears refugee camps are terror 'training grounds'
The raid was claimed by the Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda linked
Somali group which has vowed more attacks if Kenya does not pull its troops out
The Shabaab taunted ongoing investigations on Monday.
"A week after Westgate, the Kenyan government and
Western intelligence officials failed to uncover the facts and details of the
Westgate Operation," it added, playing up an apparent lack of information
on the attackers and details of how the massacre was planned and carried out.
Islamists also insisted that no woman joined them in the
attack, dismissing speculation that British 'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite
took part in the massacre.
"The Kenyan govt [government] is still chasing its tail by holding on to the
hopeless notion that a woman led the attack," the group added.
Lewthwaite, a 29-year-old Muslim convert, was married to
Germaine Lindsay, one of four suicide bombers who attacked the London transport
network in July 2005, killing 52 people.
The mother-of-three has been on the run in East Africa for
around two years and is wanted by Kenyan police for alleged involvement in a
separate terror plot.
"We will ensure that we investigate thoroughly so that
we understand the lead up to this event, the participants in the event, those
who co-conspired to support this event," said Ndung'u Gethenj, chairperson
of the defence and the foreign relations committee.
"We will make sure that we also understand how the
event came to an end and the roles of the various forces."
The lawmakers said they would also "relook and
rethink" Kenya's hosting of some half a million Somali refugees, accusing
the camps - such as the word's biggest such site, Dadaab, which hosts over 400 000
people - as being a "training ground" for Somali extremists.
Somali refugees in Kenya, many who themselves fled the Shabaab,
have expressed fear they will be targeted in reprisal raids.
Also on Monday, a British man was released without charge
after he was arrested in Nairobi following the attack, British sources said.
Eight suspects are currently being held in connection with
the raid, one of the worst attacks in Kenya's history.
On Tuesday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to lead
inter-faith prayers in central Nairobi to remember those killed in the attack.