Kenya police warn the media against reporting on mall massacre looting

NAIROBI (AFP) - 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, the media said on Thursday.

Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo told reporters it is "very clear that there is a limit" to media freedom.

"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 mall as soldiers battled Islamist gunmen in the four-day siege last month - 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," Insp-Gen Kimaiyo added.

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 carried out a shooting spree, executing children in the shopping aisles.

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.

However, Kenya's army chief Julius Karangi on Tuesday insisted officers did not loot, and took drinks from the supermarket only "to quench their thirst".

Explaining the other goods taken, Mr Karangi called it "sanitisation to ensure their safety".

Several business owners told AFP that they locked their premises before escaping from the mall only to find them ransacked and with valuables missing when they were allowed back in after the siege.

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