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The Globe and Mail

Wounded in Kenya mall attack, Canadian teen may not walk again

Fardosa Abdi, 17, left, suffered extensive injuries during the attack on the Nairobi shopping mall. Her sister Dheeman, 16, was also hurt, but was treated in hospital and released.


After three surgeries and two blood transfusions, a Canadian teenager remains in serious condition at a Kenyan hospital with injuries from a terror attack on a Nairobi mall, a relative said.

Toronto-born Fardosa Abdi, 17, suffered extensive injuries to her right leg and lower body from two gunshot wounds and the impact of an explosion, her aunt Hodan Hassan said Wednesday.

Ms. Abdi spent eight hours in surgery Tuesday, her third operation since the attack, Ms. Hassan said.

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Ms. Abdi's sister, 16-year-old Dheeman Abdi, was also in the mall at the time of the attack, incurring less severe injuries. She has been released from hospital, Ms. Hassan said.

The teenagers are two of six Canadian-born children in the family, which moved to Kenya for the father's work roughly two years ago. The girls were grocery shopping at the mall when the attackers struck and the family spent agonizing hours waiting to learn whether they were injured, Ms. Hassan said.

Their grandmother first learned of the attack from news reports in Minnesota, where she and Ms. Hassan live and where the teenagers visited this summer. She then called the family in Kenya, who hadn't heard whether their daughters were injured.

"We waited hours and hours before we even found out if they were alive or dead," Ms. Hassan said in a telephone interview from Minnesota, where she lives. "The waiting, the not knowing, is extremely painful."

Doctors fear Fardosa Abdi may not be able to walk again, according to her aunt. Gunfire broke two places in her right leg and she has "multiple, multiple wounds, severely injured wounds" to her lower body from the explosion, Ms. Hassan said. The teen was nearing graduation from high school, had planned to return to Toronto or to Minnesota, and aspired to studying to become a physician. She remains sedated in hospital. "She's still not doing well," her aunt said.

Ms. Hassan said that the sisters are Muslim and wear head scarves – a sign, she added, that the attackers didn't spare Muslims in their attack. "My nieces are examples that Muslims were no different." She added: "I think they were just two young girls who got caught in tragedy. Monsters just got hold of them. That's all I can think about."

Both were born in Toronto and the family has Canadian citizenship, Ms. Hassan said. The girls last visited Toronto this summer. Their father has been in touch with Canadian authorities at the High Commission in Kenya, Ms. Hassan said, urging the Canadian government to support her family. "I want the Canadian people to pray for this young girl," Ms. Hassan said.

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"You can't do anything but sit and hope that things will be OK."

Dheeman Abdi was also shot and suffered wounds from an explosion, but her injuries were less severe, her aunt said.

Two Canadians were killed in the attack – diplomat Annemarie Desloges, 29, from the Ottawa area, and businessman Naguib Damji, 59, from North Vancouver. Ms. Desloges' husband Robert Munk – a citizen of Denmark who had Canadian permanent residency and graduated from Ottawa's Carleton University – was also among the wounded.

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has said two Canadians were injured in the weekend attack on the upscale mall, but hasn't named them.

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