Kenya: Memorial Service Held for Nairobi Terror Attack Survivor Who Died Days Shy of Anniversary

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, during a press conference in Mombasa (file photo).

On Jan. 15, 2019, when al-Shabab terrorists attacked an international hotel and office complex in Nairobi, killing 21 people, hotel nurse Noel Kidaliza was shot five times. She survived the attack only to die earlier this month as a result of her injuries, just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the attack.

As Kidaliza’s surviving relatives Thursday held a memorial service for the latest casualty of the attack, her surviving husband called on Kenyan authorities to do more to stop the Islamist militant group.

Fifty-two-year-old Noel Kidaliza was the hotel nurse at the DusitD2 hotel, when the militants attacked.

Kidaliza’s husband, Benard Kisanya, says the attack changed his family’s life forever.

She was the hotel nurse at Dusit.  The only nurse in that hotel.  During that incident, she had gone out.  She ran back when she heard the explosion.  She realized there was a patient, so she went back.  When she went back, that’s when she met those terrorists,” said Kisanya.

The Islamist militants shot Kidaliza five times – twice in the shoulder and three times in the stomach.

Kisanya says emergency medical workers got his wife to the Avenue Hospital about an hour after she was shot.

Dr. Paul Odula, who was the operating surgeon, recalled the events of that day.

“She looked very down and hopeless.  She had multiple bullet wounds in her tummy.  She was just lying there.  That’s the first thing I saw.  She was just lying on a stretcher.  So, I came in, took her to theater and realized it was a mess in the tummy.  It was like spaghetti in the tummy instead of intestines. It was a mess. The surgery took us a lot of time, about five hours, to clean her up and connect everything back together,” said Odula.

‘She was a fighter’

Despite her severe injuries, Kidaliza survived and a few weeks later was discharged from the hospital.

But even when she seemed to be getting better, there were complications.

Because of Kidaliza’s multiple wounds, says Odula, she had to constantly fight off infections.

“She was a fighter. Once she realized she was alive, she fought. She struggled. She tried to keep going. She was lively. I hardly knew her. She was a colleague, a nurse.  I hardly knew her, but we talked, and she talked, and she kept fighting, trying hard,” Odula said.

But after months of struggle, her liver failed and she died on Jan. 2, just two weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of the attack..

The family of Noel Kidaliza Thursday held a private memorial service.

Friends and relatives described Kidaliza as hardworking, warm, kind, and generous.

Her surviving husband Kisanya says she was a loving and nurturing mother to their children.

“My wife was a woman of substance, she loved her family, she was a woman who gave her life to her family.”

More security needed

Kisanya says authorities need to take more practical measures to protect the Kenyan people from terrorism.

He lashed out at Kenyan leaders for big projects like the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a controversial project that seeks national compromise on various issues.

“Instead of going for whatever they call BBI, why can’t they go for the security, to protect the citizens?  We vote for them, they are just going round.  There is no employment.  They should create employment for the young people.  If they are not employed, they go [to] these terrorists, they offer you something, they come back to kill us,” Kisanya said.

Kenyan authorities have vowed to stop the militant group, which is an affiliate of al-Qaida. The Islamists have been fighting the government in Mogadishu ever since.

Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight al-Shabab alongside the African Union Mission in Somalia, with forces from at least six African countries.

Al-Shabab has demanded all foreign troops leave Somalia and gives Kenya’s military presence in the country as reason for its attacks.

Since last year’s assault on the Nairobi hotel, al-Shabab has claimed several other attacks on security and civilians in northeast Kenya, near the Somali border.

In a brazen attack on Jan. 5, the terrorist group attacked a military base in Lamu, Kenya, killing three Americans.

The al-Shabab attack on the Dusit hotel complex was not the first assault by the group in Nairobi. The Islamist militants in 2013 attacked the Westgate shopping mall, killing 67 people.

The group’s deadliest attack in Kenya was in 2015, when al-Shabab gunmen killed 148 people at Garissa University, most of them Kenyan students.

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