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Africa

Kenya mourns mall victims

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta led the nation in inter-faith prayers for victims of the mall siege on Tuesday (01.10.2013). A parliamentary group is investigating the attack and there have been reports of looting.

During the memorial held at the Kenyatta International Conference Center, President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed that the country was healing from a wound inflicted by religious extremists.

A special defense committee from parliament has toured the mall to assess the damage caused when gunmen attacked the upscale Westgate shopping center.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his statement to the nation at the State House in Nairobi. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MUCHUCHA (Photo credit should read John Muchucha/AFP/Getty Images)

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The parliamentarians also plan to initiate a probe into why top government officials failed to take action after being warned of a possible attack almost a year ago.

Dalmas Otieno, a member of the national security committee, said his team would meet on Tuesday to map out the way forward for the probe, which is expected to take several weeks at least.

Westgate traders, who were inspecting the shopping center for the first time since the attack, told DW they had incurred immense losses during the four day siege.

Security forces accused of looting

Some traders reported that jewelry cases had been smashed and valuables, including mobile phones, had been stolen. They found cash registers empty and discovered that alcohol stocks had been plundered.

Suspicion has fallen on Kenya's security forces.

A soldier from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) holds his gun as he arrives at the Westgate Shopping Centre in the capital Nairobi. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW MILITARY) ***FREI FÜR SOCIAL MEDIA***

The Kenyan government says it will investigate allegations of looting by the special forces

Soon after the attack began on September 21, Kenyan security officials cordoned off the area around the mall, allowing access only to a few government employees.

Morris Mukesh, who ran a salad processing business inside the Westgate mall, said he was devastated by what he said seen, but still optimistic and "ready to start business again.” Amirkhan Savanih, who owns a bookstore, said the fire which engulfed the mall had caused "heavy losses." He said he was now going in every day to clear away as much of the remaining stock as he could.

Many businesspeople who owned shops inside the mall complained that the authorities were not giving them enough information. Wholsesale trader John Muchiri told DW the "mall's stakeholders" had not been told enough "to understand the events which took place over the last few days."

Vow to restore business

Kenyan minister of trade Phyllis Kandie told reporters outside the mall the government was willing to assist the traders.

A man only identified by his first name, Stephen (C) is comforted by Pastor Elizabeth Akinyi (R) and family members at the city mortuary in Nairobi.. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenyans have been commended for coming together in the face of the tragedy

“We will work with them until their businesses are back to normal,” she said.

Shops and businesses around the mall have finally reopened. Veronica Osundwa, a saleswoman at Nakumatt, one of Kenya's largest supermarkets, told DW correspondent James Shimanyula business was slowly returning to normal. “We are seeing many different people from different countries coming,” she said.

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