Nairobi: Kenya`s police chief has threatened journalists with arrest after they reported on looting and disarray among security forces during the massacre in Nairobi`s Westgate shopping mall, media said today. Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo told reporters it is "very clear that there is a limit" to media freedom, regarding reports on last month`s four-day assault on the mall to oust Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen who carried out a shooting spree.
"We are looking within the law very closely for those individuals who in one way or another might have committed crimes... That soon they would be apprehended and appear before the court, and face the consequences of this," he said.
Journalists from Kenya`s KTN television station -- which like other media outlets has reported widely on the ransacking of the upmarket shopping centre as soldiers battled Islamist gunmen in the siege -- are among those threatened with arrest.
"You need not incite Kenyans, you need not to distribute or issue statements that can amount to hate speech, and you need not issue statements or reports that could affect the life of another person," Kimaiyo said. Police sources today said a team had been tasked to bring in two KTN reporters for questioning.
Kenya`s National Commission on Human Rights said it was "concerned" at the police warning. Security camera footage from the mall broadcast at the weekend shows soldiers carrying white plastic bags out of the supermarket, shortly after the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab gunmen went on a shooting spree, executing children in the shopping aisles. At least 67 people died in the attack.
KTN said their hour-long documentary investigating the Westgate attack had "ruffled the feathers" of Kimaiyo.
Media reacted angrily to the move by the police chief, with the Daily Nation newspaper putting his threats on its front page under the headline "intimidation".
The Standard newspaper, which has the same owners as KTN, published a cartoon that shows a journalist silenced by a giant padlock through his lip marked "press freedom", as a government official walks away with the key. Kenya`s security forces were initially praised for bravery in battling the insurgents, but were later heavily criticised after shopkeepers entering the mall after the siege said their stores had been ransacked.
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.