Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Kenya mall attack: Surgery for NZ man

Shot Kiwi describes scene as al-Qaeda terrorists opened fire on shoppers in Nairobi.

Andrew McLaren is recovering in hospital in Nairobi.
Andrew McLaren is recovering in hospital in Nairobi.

A New Zealand man who was shot in the back during a mall attack in Kenya successfully underwent surgery to his chest overnight.

Andrew McLaren and his wife Kathy were at a cafe in the Westgate mall in the capital Nairobi when militants linked to al-Qaeda opened fire on Saturday, killing at least 68 people and injuring 175.

The couple got down but Mr McLaren was shot as he sheltered from the indiscriminate shower of gunfire. He was rushed to Aga Khan Hospital in a taxi and last night underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments.

Mr McLaren, 34, from Hastings, had worked in Kenya since 2011 as the operations manager for Olivado, a natural health products company with production bases in Kerikeri and Nairobi.

Olivado chief executive Gary Hannam, who flew into Nairobi yesterday, said Mr McLaren was coping well.

"Andrew completed his surgery late this afternoon [local time] and is back in the ward."

"The operation to his chest was successful, he is not in any danger, but the doctors have requested that he rest completely for at least two to three days."

He is expected to have another operation in 5 days times to close the wound.

Mr and Mrs McLaren would also like to thank New Zealanders for their support, Mr Hannam said.

When speaking to the couple, Mr Hannam said they compared the mall massacre to a war zone - except as an act of terrorism, it was "worse than being in a war".

"They were actually sitting in a cafe and they heard some gunfire from inside the building. The cafe terrace faced the road, so they got down and bullets were just going everywhere - I mean, these guys were firing indiscriminately all over the place," he said.

"Andrew got hit and there was an older gentleman who was nearby them who told them to stay down."

Mr Hannam said a cafe worker got the couple to safety and put them in a taxi.

"They were one of the first people to the Aga Khan Hospital, so he was saved - very lucky."

Mr Hannam said people in Nairobi were in shock.

"Nairobi, in spite of its reputation, is a very quiet place. I've been coming here for a long time and this is not what usually happens," he said.

"This is a terrorist attack, and it's not something that's a reflection upon the safety of the place."

Mr McLaren's rugby club posted on its Facebook page: "The Havelock North Rugby Club would like to send our aroha and mana to Andrew and Kath McLaren."

The massacre is the second violent incident involving Olivado in Nairobi. In 2007, Aucklander Julian Nathan, 76, was beaten to death by intruders in an apartment complex where he was staying with two colleagues of his son Chris, who worked for the company.

Olivado general manager Sarah Nicholls said the attack had been a shock for workers in Kerikeri, where Mr McLaren worked for half the year.

She said Kenya was not an unsafe place and it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Our operation there has obviously been going for about five or six years we've just built a new factory there. We're really happy with it, we're really happy with the production and Andrew's done a fantastic job there this year."

Kenya's military said most of the hostages held captive during the three-day standoff had been rescued.

The al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was in response to Kenya's peacekeeping forces entering neighbouring Somalia two years ago.

- Additional reporting Hawke's Bay Today

VICTIMS OF THE KENYA MALL ATTACK:


Here are details about some of the other victims.

AUSTRALIA

Ross Langdon was an architect who worked in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, creating eco-lodges and socially sustainable tourism in ecologically sensitive locations.

He was born in Tasmania, he said at a conference in Krakow last year, and his experiences living off the land as a child persuaded him it was better to try to adapt to one's environment than to attempt to change it - to express sensitivity and respect for the tradition of the communities in which he was working.

"I thought it might be better to be like a chameleon - able to adapt and change and blend with our environment rather than conquer it," he said.

The firm he co-founded, Regional Associates, an architecture and research consultancy, issued a statement expressing grief.

"Ross was living his dream, greatly contributing to the lives of people within highly disadvantaged communities and supporting habitat conservation for some of the world's most threatened species," the organisation said on its website.

The consultancy has offices in London, Australia, and Uganda. British media widely reported that Langdon was a dual national, though the Foreign Office did not identify British victims by name.

THE NETHERLANDS

Langdon's partner, Elif Yavuz, 33, was expecting their first child in early October.

A 2013 graduate of Harvard University's Department of Global Health and Population, she had completed her dissertation research on malaria in eastern Africa and was working with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the university said in a note to faculty, staff and students.

A statement from Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton said Yavuz had been working with the foundation as a senior vaccines researcher based in Tanzania.

"Elif was brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues, who will miss her terribly," the Clintons said.

Jessica Cohen, an assistant professor of global health at Harvard and a friend of Yavuz, remembered her as "a deeply caring person and also an intellectually curious person".

"She was one of the most intelligent and full-of-life students I have met," Cohen said. "Malaria is such a huge burden in the world that it is an area where you can make a difference. I think she really enjoyed applying what she learned from the research side to what she knew from field experience."

PERU

Juan Ortiz-Iruri was a retired tropical disease specialist for UNICEF who had lived for 25 years in Africa, according to UNICEF and Peruvian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alejandro Neyra.

His son, Ricardo Ortiz, told Radio RPP that he entered the mall accompanied by his daughter, a 13-year-old born in the US.

"The version from my sister is that sadly my father fell to the floor and showed no signs of life," Ortiz said. He said his sister suffered a hand injury, but is out of danger.

Ortiz-Iruri had worked in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Liberia.

GHANA

Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet, professor and former ambassador to Brazil, Cuba and the United Nations, died after being wounded in the attack, Ghana's presidential office confirmed. Ghana's ministry of information said Awoonor's son was injured and is responding to treatment.

Awoonor's work drew its inspiration from the traditions of his native Ewe tribe. Ghana's poetry foundation said on its website that Awoonor went into exile after Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was driven out in a coup in 1966. He studied at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his dissertation was later published as "The Breast of the Earth: A survey of the History Culture and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara" (1975). He returned to Ghana in 1975 and was later jailed for alleged involvement coup plot. His time in prison was recounted in "The House by the Sea (1978)," the foundation said.

KENYA

Ruhila Adatia-Sood, whose husband worked for the US Agency for International Development in Nairobi, was killed, the organization said in a press statement. She was a popular radio and TV personality in Kenya and tributes poured in for her on Twitter and Facebook. She was expecting a child.

Mitul Shah, the president of a second-tier football team in Kenya was among those killed, a spokesman for the country's national football federation told The Associated Press. Shah, president of Bidco United, was shot and killed on the first day of the siege on Saturday, Football Kenya spokesman John Kaniuki said. Shah worked for the Bidco cooking oil company and was reportedly attending a promotional cooking event with children at the Westgate mall.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's nephew and nephew's fiancee were also among the dead.

INDIA

Two Indians, 8-year-old Parmashu Jain and 40-year-old Sridhar Natarajan, were killed, and four others were wounded in the attack, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said.

CANADA

Two Canadians, including a diplomat, died in the attack, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He paid tribute to the victims and noted the loss of diplomat Annemarie Desloges, who served in Canada's High Commission to Kenya as a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency.

Her spouse Robert Munk was wounded in the attack, but has since been released from the hospital, the Canadian Press reported.

Tim Edwards, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, said Desloges "was one of our bright young lights, and hers was a career brimming with promise. Today we grieve the loss not only of a warm and intelligent friend and colleague, but a lifetime's potential tragically unfilled."

Edwards said 29-year-old Desloges came from a "foreign service family" and had accompanied her parents on overseas postings before deciding to follow in their footsteps in 2006. She served at a posting in New Delhi before moving to Kenya, where she had worked for two years.

Media reports and Facebook users identified Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji as the other Canadian victim. The daughter and niece of Damji confirmed to various media that he died in the attack.

SWITZERLAND

The Swiss government confirmed that one of its citizens was injured in the attack. It said its embassy in Nairobi is in contact with the victim's family and local officials, but would not provide further detail on the victim's name.

BRITAIN

British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said six British nationals are believed to have died in the attack, and he warned the number could rise.

The victims include Zahira Bawa and her 8-year-old daughter Jenah Bawa, from Leamington Spa in central England, a relative told Britain's Press Association news agency.

FRANCE

Two French women were killed, President Francois Hollande said.

SOUTH AFRICA

One South African citizen was killed, according to the country's International Relations Department.

CHINA

A 38-year-old Chinese woman with the surname Zhou who worked in the real estate industry was killed in the attack, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported. Her son was injured in the attack and was in stable condition in a hospital, according to the Chinese Embassy in Kenya.

US

Five American citizens were injured, US officials said.

- AP

- NZ Herald

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