Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Two Canadians dead, three injured in Kenyan mall attack

  • Print

Ben Curtis / The Associated Press

Soldiers from the Kenya Defence Forces walk out, following the sound of explosions and gunfire, from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday. Kenyan military forces engaged in sporadic gun battles Sunday with the Islamic extremists holding an unknown number of hostages inside an upscale Nairobi mall, as officials said the death toll from a grenade-and-gunfire siege a day earlier rose to 59, with at least 175 wounded.

TORONTO — Canada offered its support to Kenya Sunday, saying it was "prepared to do more" to help the east African country recover from a horrific terrorist attack that killed at least 68 people, including two Canadians.

Diplomat Annemarie Desloges and an unidentified Canadian were caught in the crossfire as gunmen used AK-47s and threw grenades at Nairobi’s upscale Westgate mall, a venue frequented by expatriates and wealthy locals.

The attack that began Saturday dragged into Sunday, with 10 to 15 terrorists holed up inside the building with a number of hostages as Kenyan authorities mounted what it called a final operation to end the siege.

Somalia’s radical rebel group, al-Shabab, claims responsibility for the attack as retribution for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia. It said there will be no negotiations.

"I reached out yesterday and spoke with my counterpart from Kenya and offered not only our sympathies but our support in the fight against al-Shabab international terrorism," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said at an event in Toronto.

"Al-Shabab’s despicable actions, and the number of people from different nationalities killed do show that the fight against terrorism is the great struggle of our generation and does require us collaborating and working together."

At least two Canadian citizens and one permanent resident were among the 175 injured.

Kenyan officials said they would do their best to save hostages lives, but there was no official word on how many victims remained in the mall. Kenya’s Red Cross said in a statement citing police that 49 people had been reported missing.

Baird said Canada would wait for the situation to be resolved before deciding on any steps forward.

"The capacity to be able to look at accountability and what we might do to support the Kenyan government, that phase hasn’t started yet," he said.

"Once the incident is over obviously we’ll work with like-minded allies to look at what we can do on counter-terrorism."

A number of Canadians took to social media on Sunday to express their shock at the Nairobi attack and voiced their sympathies for the families of the two Canadian victims.

Desloges, a 29-year-old diplomat who worked at the Canadian embassy in Nairobi, was off duty shopping at the mall with her husband when gunfire rang out.

Her spouse, Robert Munk, was injured in the attack but has since been released from hospital. Her family requested privacy on Sunday.

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, which Desloges was a member of, said it was "devastated" by the loss of one of its own.

"Annemarie’s death inflicts a deep wound on the Foreign Service community," president Tim Edwards said in a statement.

"Annemarie was one of our bright young lights, and hers was a career brimming with promise. Today we grieve the loss not only of a warm and intelligent friend and colleague, but a lifetime’s potential tragically unfilled."

Edwards said Desloges came from a "foreign service family" and had accompanied her parents on overseas postings before deciding to follow their footsteps in 2006. She served at a posting in New Delhi before moving to Kenya, where she had worked for two years.

He noted that Desloges is the first Canadian diplomat killed on a posting since Glyn Berry died in an improvised explosive device attack in Afghanistan in 2006.

"Annemarie was exactly the kind of person all Canadians would want as front line abroad," Edwards said.

"Possessed of a strong work ethic, Annemarie was sharp and meticulous in her work — a true professional — and expressed herself with a poise and confidence which belied her youth."

Daniel Lee Howe, who once took a Foreign Service training session with Desloges in Ottawa, said he remembered her talking about getting married in Cuba when they met in 2011.

While Howe called Desloges’ death a great loss, he said it wouldn’t stop him from taking on overseas postings.

"It’s rare but it does happen when you go on a posting with a high hardship level," he said of her death. "We’re trained for these events as part of the job."

Others who knew Desloges took to Twitter to express their shock at her death.

"My heart goes out to the family & friends of my colleague, Annemarie Desloges," tweeted one person. "Sad for my friends at Citizenship and Immigration Canada who lost a great colleague, Annemarie Desloges, tonight in Kenya," said another.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated his government’s determination to continue fighting al-Shabab.

"We went as a nation into Somalia to help stabilize the country and most importantly to fight terror that had been unleashed on Kenya and the world," he said on Sunday."We shall not relent on the war on terror."

 

— The Canadian Press

 

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Rumor's 30th Anniversary with Mike Wilmot, Darryl Lenox, Dave Hemstad & Derek Edwards

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A squirrel enjoys the morning sunshine next to the duck pond in Assiniboine Park Wednesday– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government force band chiefs and councillors to disclose their salary information?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google