Crime ring suspected in Kenya fire

2013-08-12 00:00

A MONEY laundering syndicate that is also allegedly involved in human trafficking is among the suspects being investigated for burning down the international airport in Nairobi, Kenya.

A special Kenyan investigation team has been created to investigate the fire that caused damage estimated at millions of rands to the airport. It also left hundreds of passengers stranded last week.

The Daily Nation in Kenya reported over the weekend that infamous businessman Kamlesh Pattni, who has also been linked to a gold export scandal in Kenya, was a prime suspect.

Pattni has however strongly denied the charges. Although he had closed his shops in the departure lounges a week before the fire because his rental contracts had expired, his staff still had access cards to the airport.

The investigators allege that the staff worked with corrupt police and customs officials to access VIP lounges at the airport.

According to the Daily Nation, people who were smuggled in and out of Kenya conducted dubious transactions in these lounges.

The investigators say the fire spread so fast that arson is suspected.

It started in the immigration offices, where officials tried to douse the flames with fire extinguishers.

More fires then erupted virtually at the same time throughout the terminal.

Quick-thinking airport staff may have prevented a much larger tragedy by evacuating people from the building, closing off all fuel lines and moving aircraft away from the burning building.

A temporary building will be equipped to be used while the gutted airport is rebuilt.

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