Kenya mall attack: Ottawa victim from family of diplomats

One of two Canadians killed in the Kenya mall attack called Ottawa her home base, but she lived all over the world as a child because her parents were foreign service officers.

Annemarie Desloges, 29, worked for High Commission of Canada in Nairobi for last 2 years

Canadian diplomat killed

10 years ago
Duration 2:03
Featured VideoAnnemarie Desloges, 29, was off-duty and shopping with her husband when Somali militants attacked

One of two Canadians killed in a Kenya mall shooting attack came from a family of foreign service officers who lived all over the world, CBC News has learned.

Annemarie Desloges, 29, was off-duty and shopping with her husband, Robert Munk, at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi when Somali militants attacked with assault rifles and grenades Saturday.

At least 68 people were killed, including Desloges and another Canadian, Vancouver-area businessman Naguib Damji. The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which reportedly targeted non-Muslims.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canada Border Services Agency, Desloges worked at the High Commission of Canada in the Kenyan capital for both departments over the last two years.

She was previously posted in Delhi starting in 2009, one year after entering the foreign service, according to a CIC statement, and she first joined the public service in 2006.

Her husband also worked overseas and Robert Munk was injured in the mall shooting.

"She was an immigration officer who was with her husband, who was injured and then later released and she'd been in the country for a number of years," said Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, on Sunday.

"She was an experienced immigration officer who served Canada for many years and obviously our thought and our prayers go out to her family."

CBC News has learned her parents were both foreign service officers who are now retired and based in Orleans, an east Ottawa suburb.

Desloges was a member of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers. The union released a statement on Sunday afternoon.

"Annemarie’s death inflicts a deep wound on the Foreign Service community," the statement read.

"Annemarie was one of our bright young lights, and hers was a career brimming with promise. Today we grieve the loss not only of a warm and intelligent friend and colleague, but a lifetime’s potential tragically unfilled.

The statement said Desloges would make frequent visits to refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Rwanda as part of her work, helping to re-settle thousands with her team of four.

"Possessed of a strong work ethic, Annemarie was sharp and meticulous in her work — a true professional — and expressed herself with a poise and confidence which belied her youth."

1st diplomat killed overseas in 7 years

The name of the second Canadian victim has not been released by officials. However, CBC News spoke to family of Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji, who said he was having coffee in the Westgate mall when the attack began and he suffered a cardiac event and died.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was expected to comment on the attack later Sunday, extended his condolences to families of both of the victims.

"Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms this cowardly, hateful act that apparently targeted innocent civilians who were simply out shopping," Harper said.

Annemarie Desloges, 29, had spent the last two years working at the Canadian Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. (Facebook)

Desloges is the first Canadian diplomat killed overseas since 2006. Glyn Berry was killed by a suicide attack outside Kandahar, Afghanistan that also injured three Canadian soldiers.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development also said at the time, the last record it had of a Canadian diplomat being killed before 2006 was John Douglas Turner of Vancouver in 1964.

He was presumed dead after the disappearance of an aircraft over Vietnam.