September 26, 2013 6:31 pm
Updated: September 29, 2013 5:38 pm

‘A lot of people died in front of me,’ teen describes Kenya attack


Update Saturday Sept. 28: Fardowsa is returning home Sunday for urgent treatment 

Nairobi/Toronto – Toronto-born teen Dheeman Abdi was a hit by a grenade and shot in the leg in a deadly attack on a Nairobi mall that she describes as “mayhem.”

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“A lot of people died in front of me…I don’t think there was any religion sparing. I think the people who did this, just did it to cause bloodshed, to cause mayhem,” said the 16-year-old.

Dheeman’s sister, Fardowsa Abdi, is in critical but stable condition after undergoing eight hours of surgery on Tuesday. The girls’ aunt says Fardowsa was lying on the floor of the Westgate Mall, bleeding, for two hours after Somalia-based al-Shabab launched their attack.

“I think they are inhuman,” said Abdi, describing her attackers. “I don’t think they are normal. I think they have a mental injury or something like that and I hope that they get better.”

IN PHOTOS: 8 gut-wrenching images as Kenya mourns Westgate attack victims

The girls were grocery shopping at a supermarket in the Westgate Mall Saturday when the attack began.

Earlier reports stated the gunmen told Muslims to leave the mall and that only non-Muslims would be targeted, but Dheeman said she and Fardowsa, whose parents are Somali-born, were wearing headscarves at the time of the attack and that the assailants attacked Muslims who were praying.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Kenya getting involved with the Somalia government’s fight against the militant group.

WATCH: ‘A lot of people died in front of me,’ teen describes Kenya attack. Sean Mallen reports. 

A statement from al-Shabab also said the attack was “retribution against the Western states that supported the Kenyan invasion and are spilling the blood of innocent Muslims in order to pave the way for their mineral companies,” in a statement posted online late Wednesday, attributed to al-Shabab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr.

Abdi was released from hospital and is recovering, but the family is hoping to have her 17-year-old sister taken back to Canada for treatment.

“The grenade thrown at my finger was actually directed at her and it went off at her lower leg… I don’t really care about myself right now, my sister is the priority,” said Abdi. “So if she can go back, that would be wonderful.”

Aunt Kissa Hassan, who is with the girls in Nairobi, says doctors in Kenya told the family there’s nothing more they can do, and that Fardowsa needs reconstructive surgery to repair her shattered leg.

“She has multiple areas where the flesh is actually missing and you can see the bone,” said Hassan. “We are really hoping and praying we can get he back home so she can get the medical care that she needs.”

Watch: Kissa Hassan describes her niece’s injuries and explains the next steps family is hoping to take.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m. ET: Foreign Affairs spokesman John Babcock told Global News Thursday afternoon that consular officials have been “in close contact with the family as well as medical officials and continue to provide consular assistance.” Further details were not provided for privacy reasons.

The sisters were born in Toronto and lived in Canada until four years ago, when they moved to Nairobi with parents Ahmed and Sugra Abdi.

Hassan said the Canadian embassy is working with the family, but warned an air ambulance would be extremely expensive and would require ministerial approval.

“The doctors here are not doing anything and we can’t get her out of the country,” said Hassan. “So we’re stuck.”

Slideshow: Dramatic images of the collapsed car park of Westgate mall were distributed on Thursday by Kenyan authorities

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