Korean woman killed in Kenya attack

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Korean woman killed in Kenya attack

A massive shooting rampage by terrorists at an upscale Nairobi shopping mall over the weekend led to at least 68 people being killed, many of them from other countries, including a 38-year-old South Korean woman.

Kenyan authorities reported late Sunday that most of the hostages had been rescued following an attack Saturday by Al Shabab militants armed with assault rifles and grenades on Narobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall.

Authorities said that an unconfirmed number of hostages were being held by 10 to 15 gunmen.

“Our concern is to rescue all hostages alive and that is why the operation is delicate,” the Kenya Defense Forces said in a statement, noting the militants had threatened to kill the hostages and blame Kenya.

More than 200 people were injured in the attack, including several diplomats and their families. Among the dead were the nephew of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the nephew’s fiancee, along with 78-year-old Ghanaian poet and former UN envoy Kofi Awoonor. Awoonor’s son was also injured.

The Korean woman slain was Kang Moon-hee, said the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her husband, a British citizen, was also injured, but was sent to a local hospital for treatment and was in stable condition. The couple only recently moved to Kenya from Dubai, according to the ministry.

Victims were also reported from the United States, South Africa, China, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Ghana, the Netherlands and India.

President Kenyatta in a televised address on Sunday called the attack a “cowardly act of terrorism” and said defense forces were trying to rescue the “many unarmed, badly shaken, innocent civilians” at the besieged mall.

The Korean Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks as an “act of terror” and pledged to provide cooperation in the aftermath of the attack. The ministry on Sunday also issued a special travel warning for those planning to visit Kenya.

Marie Harf, Kenya’s state department spokeswoman, said five Americans were among the injured in the attack and called it “a senseless act of violence.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack and said it “resolutely opposes terrorism in all manifestations and strongly condemns the terrorist attack.” A 38-year-old Chinese woman was killed and her teenage son injured in the attack.

It is the largest single terrorist attack in Kenya in 15 years, since the Al Qaeda-linked bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, when more than 200 people were killed.

The International Criminal Court yesterday excused Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, on trial for crimes against humanity for his alleged role in orchestrating ethnic violence after Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election, for one week to return home so he can deal with the attack.

The Korean government continues to emphasize terror prevention measures and has been pushing for a Counter-Terror Prevention Act bill in the National Assembly since first proposed in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. However, the bill has faced consistent opposition from various civic groups.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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