THE horrific terrorist attack on her home city of Nairobi has devastated a Petersfield cafe owner from Kenya.
Jaineeta Pandya, who runs Mezzo in the High Street, has been in a state of shock as news of the massacre at the Westgate shopping mall has unfolded.
And with many family members and friends still in the Kenyan capital, she has been desperately trying to find out what is happening out there.
She is in mourning for her homeland and the many who have died or been injured in the bloody seige by militant Islamists al-Shabab, who are demanding a Kenyan peace keeping force leaves neighbouring war-torn Somalia.
But Jaineeta has been relieved to speak on the phone to a cousin in Nairobi and discover he’s unharmed. And she watched the BBC news incredulously as her former boss when she was a dental nurse in the city – one of the country’s top dentists, Dr Sunil Sachdeva – told how he managed to rescue 20 patients from his surgery on the top floor of the besieged shopping centre.
Jaineeta’s brother though has suffered losses, with wives of two of his friends killed. One of his school friends has been shot dead, too.
“I have spoken to my brother on the phone and he is very, very upset. Many people there are still waiting for news of their loved ones, ” said Jaineeta, who has been looking to social media for information.
“It’s very, very sad. There are some very graphic things on Facebook of people who have died.
“It breaks your heart. Lots of my Kenyan friends live in the UK too and they are all in a state of shock.”
Jaineeta (46) grew up in Nairobi, just ten minutes from where the attacks took place. She left the country 22 years ago to get married. Her brother and mother, now in America, lived there until seven years ago.
UK Muslims say they feel “sorry and ashamed” following the attack, which appeared to target non-Muslims.
The terrorists have nothing to do with Islam, says Basharat Nazir, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK, which held a major celebration of peace four weeks ago at East Worldham.
“We feel very sorry and ashamed. These people are muddying the name of Islam. We are sharing the world with unspeakable evil and we very strongly condemn that.”
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Weather for Petersfield
Thursday 05 December 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: -2 C to 5 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west