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Kenya mall attack: San Diego woman among American survivors

September 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A young woman from San Diego is recovering after surviving the terror attack at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya. She is among the five Americans in the attack who survived.

Elaine Dang, 26, is a manager at a company called Eat Out Kenya. She was meeting coworkers when masked gunmen stormed the mall, spraying gunfire and tossing grenades.

Dang, a graduate of Torrey Pines High School, was wounded, but managed to escape. Her father was relieved, considering her injuries.

"The chest, something metal came into her chest, and then the arm and the leg," he said.

On Twitter, Dang posted a photo taken in her hospital room saying "Proof that I am okay. Hanging out with some of my best friends in Nairobi."

But her father says she lost two of her friends in the bloody massacre.

"I cried..." he said, pausing. "And then I'm afraid."

Dang is one of five Americans wounded in the attack, but none were killed. One American family became separated during the horrific ordeal. Nick Handler was sitting at a cafe with his 2-year-old daughter, as his pregnant wife was a floor below.

"All of a sudden I just heard a loud explosion followed by a few gun shots and I just immediately just grabbed her and luckily it was right by the door and we were able to sprint out of the cafe and ran across the mall," Handler told ABC News.

Handler and his daughter hid in a storage room with 40 other people. His wife first hid in a movie theater before making it to the roof with another group of people. About 90 minutes later, the family was rescued and reunited.

"Just the look on her face, the emotion and I think all of the fear and the uncertainty that had been building up. She just let it all out. It was a pretty emotional moment for all of us," Handler said.

Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which has ties to al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the calculated attack, saying it was in retribution for Kenyan forces' pushing into neighboring Somalia in 2011.

ABC News contributed to this report.


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