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Two Canadians dead in Kenya mall attack, including one diplomat

For the latest news on the deadly attack in Kenya, click here

A stunning terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Kenya’s capital on Saturday has struck home in Canada with the death of two Canadians, including a 29-year-old diplomat who worked at the Canadian embassy.

Annemarie Desloges was off duty shopping at Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall when the attack that killed at least 68 people occurred, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Saturday night.

READ MORE: Kenya mall attack kills at least 59, 49 missing as militants hold hostages

“That people could be gunned down in broad daylight in a shopping mall on a weekend is just a tremendous tragedy. And obviously when you have someone who is serving their country abroad, it’s quite devastating,” said Baird, who was in London, Ont. speaking at the Ontario Progressive Conservative party’s policy convention.

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“When anyone is killed in a terrorist incident, it deeply affects us. But when it’s a Canadian, it hits home. And when it’s someone is government, obviously it just shakes us to the core.”

Desloges worked with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and served at Canada’s High Commission in Kenya as a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency, federal officials said.

Photo of Annemarie Desloges from her Facebook profile. Facebook

“That people could be gunned down in broad daylight in a shopping mall on a weekend is just a tremendous tragedy. And obviously when you have someone who is serving their country abroad, it’s quite devastating,” said Baird, who was in London, Ont. speaking at the Ontario Progressive Conservative party’s policy convention.

“When anyone is killed in a terrorist incident, it deeply affects us. But when it’s a Canadian, it hits home. And when it’s someone is government, obviously it just shakes us to the core.”

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Desloges worked with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and served at Canada’s High Commission in Kenya as a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency, federal officials said.

Civilians who had been hiding during the gun battle hold their hands in the air as a precautionary measure before being searched by armed police leading them to safety, inside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. AP Photo/Jonathan Kalan
Lyndsay, right, embraces daughter Julia and husband Nick, partially seen, in a reunion that came after the couple had been separated for three hours inside a mall under attack by al-Shabab terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. The couple, friends of an AP reporter, were texting and calling the AP reporter during the hostage crisis, blurring the lines between journalist and friend. (AP Photo/Georgina Goodwin). AP Photo/Georgina Goodwin
A injured child is wheeled away on a shopping trolley outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Gunmen threw grenades and opened fire Saturday at Nairobi's upscale mall, witnesses and police said. (AP Photo/Jason Strazius). AP Photo/Jason Strazius
Shoppers are helped to evacuate the area of an upscale shopping mall, seen background , in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday Sept. 21 2013, where shooting erupted when armed men staged an attack. (AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso) . AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso
A woman with her two children rescued from the mall outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday Sept. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim). AP Photo/Sayyid Azim
People run from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday Sept. 21 2013, after gunmen threw grenades and opened fire during an attack that left 59 dead. (AP Photo/Jason Straziuso). AP Photo/Jason Straziuso
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A security officer helps a wounded woman outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday, Sept. 21 2013, after gunmen threw grenades and opened fire during an attack that left 59 dead. (AP Photo/Jason Straziuso). AP Photo/Jason Straziuso
A wounded man is escorted outside the Westgate Mall, an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday Sept. 21 2013, where shooting erupted when armed men staged an attack. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim). AP Photo/Sayyid Azim
An injured man is trreated outside an upscale shopping mall, seen background, in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday Sept. 21 2013, where shooting erupted when armed men attempted to rob a shop, according to police. (AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso). AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso
Two women hug outside an upscale shopping mall, seen background left , in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday Sept. 21 2013. (AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso). AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso
Security helps a woman outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, after gunmen threw grenades and opened fire during an attack that left 59 dead. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi). AP Photo/Khalil Senosi
Groups of onlookers gather on a road looking down over the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. Multiple barrages of gunfire erupted Sunday morning from the upscale Kenyan mall where there is a hostage standoff with Islamic extremists nearly 24 hours after they attacked using grenades and assault rifles. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis). AP Photo/Ben Curtis
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Soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces carry a wounded colleague, following the sound of explosions and gunfire, out of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. A barrage of gunfire erupted Sunday morning from the upscale Kenyan mall where there is a hostage standoff with Islamic extremist attackers, according to Associated Press journalists at the scene. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis). AP Photo/Ben Curtis
An injured soldier of Kenya Defence Forces is brought at the Oshwal Centre for medical treatment in Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim). AP Photo/Sayyid Azim

“Like Annemarie, they do so because they believe in the cause of humanity. They believe that their work will better the lives of many at home and around the world. They believe in the values that Canada represents. We have no doubt that Annemarie touched the lives of many, and it is for that, that she will always be remembered.”

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The statement added that Desloges, who had previously been posted in Delhi, had been in Kenya for two years.

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar also issued a statement extending his condolences to the victims’ families and denouncing the attack.

Kenya’s interior Cabinet secretary said early Sunday that along with the 59 people confirmed killed, at least 175 have been wounded.

Joseph Lenku also said that about 1,000 people have been rescued so far from the mall.

In a nationally televised address on Saturday Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta disclosed that some of his close family members were among the victims.

France’s president said two French women were also killed in the attack, while the U.S. State Department said some American citizens had been injured but not killed.

The gunmen remained inside the mall with hostages nearly 24 hours after they launched the attack with grenades and assault rifles.

Lenku said 10 to 15 attackers were involved in the attack, that military and police forces had surrounded the building, and that Kenyan forces had control of the security cameras inside the mall.

As the attack began shortly after noon Saturday, the al-Qaida-linked gunmen asked the victims they had cornered if they were Muslim. Those who answered yes were free to go, several witnesses said. The non-Muslims were not.

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Somalia’s Islamic extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was retribution for Kenyan forces’ 2011 push into Somalia.

The mall’s ownership is Israeli, and security experts have long said the structure made an attractive terrorist target.

With files from Maria Babbage in London and The Associated Press

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