The family of North Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji, who died in the terrorist attack on a Kenya shopping mall last weekend, are lashing out at those who took the life of a man described as loving husband and cherished father.
"His life was taken too soon during these senseless and cowardly attacks," Mr. Damji's family said in their first detailed statement on his death, issued Friday as funeral services were held for the 59-year-old father of three daughters.
Mr. Damji, who was last in Canada in early August, was one of two Canadians killed in the attack. Twenty-nine-year-old Annemarie Desloges, a diplomat from the Ottawa area who was stationed at the Canadian High Commission in Kenya, was also killed. Two Toronto-born teenagers, now living in Kenya, were injured in the attack.
In their statement, the Damji family also provided a few more details on Naguib's demise.
"On a recent visit to Kenya, while having coffee at ArtCaffe in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, he was caught in the crossfire during the recent tragedy that has shaken the world," said the statement. "We are deeply saddened and shocked by this loss – he will be greatly missed. Naguib was a vivacious, kind-hearted, gregarious man who had a magnetic personality and a great love for people – especially our family."
In honour of Mr. Damji, his family recommended donations to his favourite charity, the Aga Khan Foundation.
Mr. Damji was laid to rest on Friday following a funeral ceremony at an Ismali community centre attended by hundreds of mourners. There was no eulogy or speeches during the Ismali Muslim ceremony. Rather, those attending lined up to walk by Mr. Damji's coffin and pay their last respects.
Media were allowed into the area of the complex where the ceremony was held on condition they check in cellphones and recording devices, and not interview mourners. Mr. Damji's family has been emphatic in their request for privacy, and the Ismali community has rallied around them. Following the ceremony, Mr. Damji was taken elsewhere for burial.
Mr. Damji leaves his wife and three daughters. The Canadian citizen was born in Kenya but lived in North Vancouver, and he travelled frequently to Kenya on business. His family has declined to provide any detail on his business interests.
With a report from Josh Wingrove in Ottawa