'Cousin, friend shot as they tried to escape'

Nipun Shah has had sleepless nights since Saturday. The terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall, a place she frequently visited during her free time, has left her scared. Born and brought up in Nairobi, 19-year-old Nipun has been in Pune for the past two years to pursue a degree in fashion styling from FAD International Academy.

She lost two loved ones in the dastardly attack, including her cousin, Mitul Shah — who worked with a Nairobi-based company called Bidco — and was at the mall to organise a cooking workshop and competition for children when the attack took place.

She said her cousin was shot when he tried to escape. "Mitul was the son of my mother's brother. I didn't know him that well but my parents were very close to him. He is survived by his wife and a two-year-old daughter," she said.

Nipun was in for another shocker when she got to know about the death of a friend. "I met Ruhila Adatia-Sood at the Gujarati Gymkhana in Nairobi. I am a Jain and we all used to get together at the community centre to celebrate festivals. She used to work for a local radio station and would broadcast live from our community centre. I met her last year during Navratri. We got along quite well," she said.

Six-months pregnant Ruhila had gone to the mall to buy groceries. She was also taken hostage and shot dead. "She was so excited about starting her life as a mother. This brutality is inhuman," said Nipun.

Nipun's family was informed about the death of her cousin almost 12 hours later. "Due to the commotion in the area, the authorities were trying to gain control of the situation and save the lives of hostages. Family members rushed to the spot to identify the bodies and help the authorities in any way they could," said Nipun.

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