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US Mission Kenya: USAID FSN’s Wife Ruhila Adatia-Sood Killed at Westgate Mall Attack

–By Domani Spero

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah released a statement on the Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi that killed a member of US Mission Kenya’s extended family.  USAID FSN Ketan Sood’s wife, Ruhila Adatia-Sood, a presenter for East FM as well as an entertainment host for Kiss TV, was one of the 68 people killed in the attack at Nairobi’s Westgate mall.  The couple married in 2012 and she was pregnant with their first child.

According to local news, Ruhila was at the parking lot of the upscale mall for Sungold Sunrice Superchef, a cooking competition sponsored by the rice brand and East FM, which she was hosting at the mall. Read more here.

Below is Dr. Shah’s statement:

Via USAID | Sunday, September 22, 2013

Washington, DC: Dozens of people died yesterday at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi in a terrorist attack that was shocking in its brutality and brazenness.  Among those killed was a member of our own extended family: Ruhila Adatia-Sood, wife of Ketan Sood, a Foreign Service National at our Mission in Nairobi. Ruhila was several months pregnant with their child.

The thoughts and prayers of our entire Agency are with Ketan, his family, and his fellow citizens in these profoundly difficult days. Ketan has worked for nearly four years as a Senior Acquisition and Assistance Specialist with our Mission. In 2013, he was Embassy Nairobi’s Foreign Service National of the Year in a reflection of his unfailing efforts to support his colleagues and the communities we serve in Kenya and across East Africa. His wife, Ruhila, was a popular radio and TV personality, who was known throughout Kenya for her passion, vibrancy, and gift for making people smile.

Our entire community has been shaken by this loss and an abhorrent act of violence in a city where so many of us have lived and in a country that so many of us love. Every day, our Agency’s development professionals come to work in some of the most challenging and dangerous circumstances in the world. Although days like this shake us to the core, they do not change our steadfast commitment to mission or our determination to work for a more peaceful and just future. We continue to keep the people of Kenya in our thoughts and prayers. Now more than ever, we are committed to stand with our own colleagues and the Kenyan people as they mourn and support them as they recover.

(;_;)

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US Embassy Nairobi Suspends All USG TDY Travel to Post Until Further Notice

— By Domani Spero

 

The US Embassy in Nairobi announced that it has suspended all TDY trips to post until further notice due to the shopping mall attack this weekend and subsequent demands on embassy resources.

September 22, 2013

This message is to inform U.S. citizens that due to the ongoing security operations in Nairobi following the attack by violent extremists at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and subsequent demands on Embassy resources, the U.S. Embassy has suspended all USG temporary duty personnel (TDY) travel to post until further notice.  U.S. Mission personnel have also been advised to shelter in place during the day on Sunday, avoid the Westgate Mall area, and to avoid demonstrations or large gatherings should they come upon them.  Stay tuned to local media sources for further information.

 

A separate message urged U.S. citizens “to remain close to their residences and to shelter in place” and to “avoid the Westgate area and large gatherings.”

The American Citizen Services Unit may be reached during normal working hours at tel. +254-(0)20-363-6451, and via email at Kenya_ACS@state.gov .  For after-hours emergencies, please call +254-(0)20-363-6170. The number for the U.S. Embassy switchboard is +254-(0)20-363-6000.

Secretary Kerry released a statement here:  Terrorist Attack at Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya;  the National Security Council also released a statement here: NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the Attack in Nairobi.

The State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism program in Nairobi has an annual budget of about $8 million over the last 2 years according to the most recent OIG report.  State’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program has also trained about 1,200 Kenyan personnel in a variety of prevention, investigation, and crisis management skills.

The US Mission in Kenya,  a large post with a high number of interagency presence is headed by career diplomat, Robert Godec.  Ambassador Godec was assigned as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya in August 2012, following the resignation of General Scott Gration (see US Embassy Kenya: Ambassador Scott Gration Quits Over “Differences” Effective July 28). Prior to his assignment in Nairobi (see Obama Nominates Ambassador Robert Godec as Next Ambassador to Kenya), Ambassador Godec was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) for the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the Department of State. From 2006 to 2009, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia.

(;_;)

 

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