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Elizabeth City woman escapes Kenya mall shooting, reunited with loved ones

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ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - The Elizabeth City woman, who was caught in the terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya, is back home on American soil.

The family of 30-year-old Bendita Malakia welcomed her in Washington, D.C. Tuesday night.
    
Malakia sobbed as she collapsed into the arms of loved ones she didn't know if she'd ever see again.
    
She struggled to describe the horror she endured for 4-hours trapped inside the Nairobi mall, where masked gunmen killed more than 60 people.

"I was eating on the terrace and, then, we just heard an explosion and started crawling out and we were in the back of this home goods store, it was just, it was pretty crazy," she recounted. “I'm so glad to be here with my parents. I'm very glad. It was very, very, very scary, just a scary experience."

Kenya's president has declared the Westgate Mall in Nairobi secure.
    
Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the 4-day siege that left dozens dead and many more injured.
    
The Red Cross says there are still 65 people unaccounted for.

--- Original Story ---

A woman from eastern North Carolina escaped the shooting rampage in a Kenyan mall.

30-year-old Bendita Malakia of Elizabeth City says the gunmen barged on to the terrace where she was eating and started shooting.
     
Malakia and her friend made it inside a store where dozens of people were hiding.

"We stood up and started to turn and we heard machine guns then we started to run and there was a second explosion which knocked us on the ground," she said. “You could hear while we were back there them methodically going from store to store talking to people asking questions, shooting, screams then it would stop for a while then they would go to another store."

American security forces rescued Malakia and her friends, but it took more than 4 hours.
     
Malakia says she won't let herself feel the hurt, the pain, or the terror she felt inside the mall, only gratitude that she made it out alive.
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