North Carolina woman escapes terrorist attack in Kenya - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

North Carolina woman escapes terrorist attack in Kenya

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WBTV - WAVY -

Bendita Malakia moved to Kenya from Elizabeth City for a job. She was shopping with friends when gunmen stormed an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi early Saturday.

Nearly 70 people have been killed and close to 175 others injured. Officials say some hostages are still being held as of Sunday night. Kenyan officials say the military has taken control of most of the mall.

Between ten and 15 Islamic extremists stormed the mall Saturday from two sides, throwing grenades and firing on civilians, according to Kenyan officials.

For Malakia's mother, waiting for word about her daughter's safety was agonizing. She knew her daughter was trapped, based on one short message.

"It said, 'Dad this is Bendita, in an active shooter situation at Westgate Mall,'" said  Lue Malakia.

"I was scared to death I was going to get a call saying she was dead," said Malakia.

Her 30-year-old daughter said gunmen barged into the terrace where she was eating and started shooting.

"We stood up and started to turn and we heard machine guns.  Then we started to run and there was a second explosion which knocked us on the ground," said Bendita Malakia to CNN affiliate WAVY via Skype.

She said the gunmen were methodically going store to store. She said the gunmen would ask questions, shots would be fired, and they would hear more screams.

 

In the meantime, Malakia's mother was watching the news from home in Elizabeth City, wondering what became of her daughter.

"I couldn't get to her. I couldn't make the wrongs right," she said.

After more than four hours, Malakia and others were rescued by American security forces and the Kenyan Army.

"It was completely luck because we were on the ground floor, easily accessible," she said. "We did a lot of praying in there."

 

Somalia's al-Qaida-linked rebel group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack that specifically targeted non-Muslims, saying it was in retribution for Kenya's 2011 push into neighboring Somalia.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press Contributed to this article.

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