NAIROBI, Kenya -- Intelligence warnings of a terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall went unheeded; a turf war between police and army units delayed the response to the deadly attack; friendly fire fatalities added to tensions between different Kenyan forces.
Amid Kenyan media reports on the chaotic response to the mall massacre, the parliamentary defense committee has summoned security chiefs to appear at a committee hearing next week to explain what went wrong.
"The time for responsibility and accountability has come," the committee chairman, Ndung'u Gethenji, told Kenyan media.
The Daily Nation has reported on arguments over who was in charge, and confusion and jostling between various Kenyan security agencies ordered to respond.
Some units went into the building - where hundreds were trapped by gunmen - with a mission just to rescue a group of VIPs, the newspaper reported. There is no confirmation of who the VIPs were, but those inside at the time included President Uhuru Kenyatta's son, the president's sister and her son and son's fiancee.
Kenyatta's nephew and the fiancee died.
The first response from Kenyatta and others in the political elite was a call for Kenyans to pull together and to avoid the "blame game." But in his address to the nation on the mall crisis, Kenyatta had to announce publicly that police chief David Kimaiyo was in charge, to make the chain of authority clear.
As days have passed with little meaningful information on the fate of hostages and missing people, Kenyan patience has frayed, with people making demands online for answers to key questions.
Several Kenyan media reports Friday cited intelligence sources saying that Intelligence chief Michael Gichangi had warned police chiefs about a possible terror attack that Saturday on the mall in advance. Police denied the allegation in comments to the Daily Nation.
Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack in which 72 people were killed, including five militants and six soldiers. The Kenya
The Star and Daily Nation both reported that a pregnant woman was warned by her brother, an intelligence officer, not to visit the mall because it would be attacked. She usually shopped there on Saturdays.
Once the rescue mission got underway, disputes over who was in charge delayed the rescue of civilians, according to local media.
"Inquiries by the Nation indicate that a coordinated rescue mission was badly delayed because of disputes between the Kenya Police and KDF officers commanding their units on the ground," the Daily Nation reported.
A police unit that arrived first and began evacuating civilians had a group of militants pinned down near the Nakumatt Supermarke, according to the account. But the officers walked out after their commander was killed by friendly fire from a Kenyan army unit, the newspaper reported.
"The pullout left a vacuum that apparently allowed the terrorists to regroup and move through the mall slaughtering many captives. It also allowed the terrorists to deploy heavy-caliber machine guns that they had not used in the earlier shootout," the report said. "The teams also appeared to have had different aims. One officer involved said that some units had a priority to locate and rescue a specific group of VIPs."
It's believed the terrorists concealed machine guns in the mall before the attack, possibly renting a shop to do so. Other reports suggest they had researched the locations of air vents and other hiding places.
Prominent Kenyan tech developer and analyst Erik Hersmann criticized officials' self-congratulatory tone, as agency chiefs contradicted one another, and prematurely claimed the terrorists were defeated, the mall was cleared and the situation was under control.
"Kenyan government Twitter accounts would be better used for valuable, timely info updates than for self-congratulations," he tweeted Tuesday.
A car belonging to the attackers had been found in the mall car park, AP reported a police source as saying Friday. There were no updates from government officials on what has been found in the mall by forensics experts and other investigators.