Kenyan terror attack death toll set to rise
Pregnant TV presenter and eight-year-old boy among those killed
Smoke rises over Westgate Shopping Centre after an explosion in Nairobi.
More than two days after Islamist gunmen began firing assault rifles and throwing grenades inside the Westgate mall in Nairobi, fewer than a third of the 62 confirmed victims have been publicly identified.
That death toll is likely to rise, with more than 60 reported missing, some of whom are likely to still be hostages.
The shopping centre is popular with Nairobi’s large expatriate community, and it is unsurprising that a good proportion of the dead were non-Kenyans, including from diplomatic, aid and business backgrounds.
There were also a number of families: among the groups initially targeted by the gunmen on Saturday was a cooking competition for young children on a rooftop terrace of the mall.
Hosting the contest and among the dead was Ruhila Adatia-Sood, a local who was a popular TV and radio presenter.
Known as Ru and married to an employee of the US Agency for International Development, Adatia-Sood was six months pregnant and posing happily for Instagram photos in the minutes before the attack.
One of these showed her with a friend, Radio Africa journalist Kamal Kaur, who later sent a series of desperate tweets explaining how Adatia-Sood had died.
Kaur, who was with her own two young children, said the attackers threw a grenade before shooting. One bullet narrowly missed her son before ricocheting off a wall and killing another child next to her. She described lying still as the attackers returned, “in a pool of someone’s blood, a dead little boy lying on my side”.
The only child victim to be named so far is Paramshu Jain, the eight-year-old son of an Indian bank manager. His mother and 12-year-old sister were hurt. Another Indian national died, Sridhar Natarajan, a 40-year-old pharmaceutical worker.
Among the other victims was a hugely experienced UN tropical diseases specialist who was about to begin work at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Juan Ortiz-Iruri, a Peruvian national, had lived in Africa for 25 years, mainly working on programmes to improve maternal and infant health. The 63-year-old was due to start at the school’s centre for maternal and newborn health in October.
Professor Nynke van den Broek, head of the centre, said Ortiz-Iruri had “dedicated his professional life to improving health systems in Africa and Asia”.
A diplomat was among two Canadian nationals killed, according to the country’s prime minister, Stephen Harper. Annemarie Desloges, a border services official and the daughter of two retired diplomats, was described by colleagues as “one of our bright young lights”. She was at the shopping centre with her husband, Robert Munk. He was wounded but has since been released from hospital.
The other Canadian victim was named as Naguib Damji, a businessman who was travelling through Kenya. He was in a coffee shop in the mall with relatives when, his family said, a gunman started firing and throwing grenades.
The ripples from the attack reached as far as Trinidad, with a research economist, Ravindra Ramrattan, named among the dead.
The winner of a presidential gold medal in Trinidad for his academic prowess, Ramrattan, known to friends as Ravi, was described as a “kind, good and wonderful man”.
The most high profile victim, and among the first to be named, was Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet and academic and former diplomat. He was in Nairobi to attend the Storymoja Hay literary festival.– (Guardian service)