Saturday’s terror attack on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by the Somalia-based pro-al Qaeda group, al-Shaabab, claimed the life of Ghanaian academic, poet and politician, Prof. Kofi Awoonor, the Ghana government announced on Sunday.
An official statement issued in Accra by Felix Kwakye Ofosu, the Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, said Prof. Awoonor, the immediate past Chairman of the Council of State, died from injuries sustained during an attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi.
‘Ghana’s High Commission in Kenya has confirmed Prof. Awoonor’s untimely passing and indicated that his son, who also sustained injuries in the attack, survived and is currently responding to treatment.
‘Government extends its condolences to Prof. Awoonor’s family and Ghanaians at large for this tragic loss.’
Prof. Awoonor, 78, was a poet, writer, researcher, politician and a professor of English.
He taught at the University of Cape Coast and served as Ghanaian ambassador to Brazil, Cuba, several South American countries and the United Nations.
Prof. Awoonor was a close ally of former President Jerry John Rawlings, the late President John Evans Atta Mills and current President John Dramani Mahama.
He was also a key member of Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress.
The Somalia-based terrorist group, al-Shabaab, has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s deadly attack which killed at least 30 people and injured 60, according to the Daily Nation newspaper.
The incident happened when some 10 gunmen stormed the Westgate mall early Saturday, setting the stage for a standoff that lasted many hours.
Kenyan officials said at least one of the attackers had been detained in hospital, while several others had been pinned down.
A security operation by the police and army special forces continues to fully secure the four-storey mall.
The Daily Nation newspaper quoted Deputy President William Ruto as saying the government would bring the siege to an end and would get to the bottom of the attack.
‘We will bring to account the perpetrators and their accomplices,’ Mr. Ruto said. ‘Our security is important. We ask all to cooperate with the security agencies not only now but when they have information they feel can help prevent such tragedies in future.’
The joint security operation to fully secure the mall, which is patronised by Kenyans and expatriates alike, is still in operation.