Several victims of Kenya attack have ties to Minnesota

Authorities still don't know if the militants who attacked a shopping mall in Kenya hold Minnesota ties. But there's no doubt some of their victims have family connections here.

Hodan Hassan of Minnetonka, Minn., says two of her teenage nieces were injured in the attack. One niece, 17-year-old Fardosa Abdi, suffered severe leg injuries and has undergone two rounds of surgery; 16-year-old Dheeman Abdi suffered less serious wounds to an arm and a leg.

"Fardosa I don't think can talk now. Dheeman is able to talk, and I spoke with her briefly," Hassan said. "I didn't even want to ask what happened. I just said 'are you OK?' And I told her that she's going to be OK and we're praying and we love her." The girls were born in Canada. They're of Somali descent and moved to Kenya to be with their parents, Hassan said.

In Collegeville, Minn. three students at St. John's Preparatory School have family members who were killed in the attack.

Two sisters from Kenya and another student from Ghana lost relatives, said Matt Reichert, the school's principal. Still, the students are doing well and sticking to their academic routine, he added.

"They're constantly checking in with home, of course, and they're checking the news stories and listening to the BBC and to public radio like all of us are to get up-to-the-minute reports," Reichert said.

The students are getting a lot of support from St. John's community, Reichert said. The Roman Catholic school held a prayer service for the victims before classes Monday morning.

Somali community members here do acknowledge the possibility that some of the attackers had Minnesota ties.

Beginning in 2007, the first of about two dozen young men slipped away to the Horn of Africa to join al-Shabab, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the weekend attack in Nairobi.

In late 2008, news broke that a number of young Somali men from the Twin Cities had left the U.S. to join al-Shabab in Somalia. Some are still at large; some have been killed.

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