Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Man 'killed helping Kenya children'

Family members console Rupal Shah, the wife of Mitul Shah, during his funeral at the Hindu Crematorium in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)
Family members console Rupal Shah, the wife of Mitul Shah, during his funeral at the Hindu Crematorium in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)

A British man was killed in the Kenyan shopping centre horror as he tried to save children who were taking part in a televised cooking competition, his colleagues have said as they paid tribute to him.

Mitul Shah, 38, has been hailed a hero for reportedly offering himself as a hostage to allow children to escape from the rooftop of the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, where the programme, sponsored by his company, was being filmed.

The funeral of the father-of-one, who was born in London, was held yesterday in Nairobi, with a death notice posted online by his company referring to him as a "hero and a star".

Mr Shah, who was head of sales and marketing at Bidco Oil, a Kenyan cooking oil firm, died on Saturday, the first day of the atrocity.

A Bidco spokesman said: "He was among the first casualties of the Westgate siege, losing his life in the first bout of attack, presumably killed while trying to protect some children who were assembled to participate or witness a cooking challenge."

A post on the firm's Facebook page confirmed that Mr Shah, who leaves two-year-old daughter Sarai and wife Rupal, had "succumbed trying to rescue the children".

Bidco director Dipak Shah said: "We are anguished and shell-shocked at the turn of events. The tragic loss of our colleague and brother has created a vacuum in our heart as much as it has in our organisation."

Mr Shah had been to school in Kenya but returned to the UK for university, from 1993 to 1996, and graduated in management science with computing.

He joined Bidco as a trainee and is said to have played a "pivotal role" in the firm's success. He was described by the company as "young, dynamic, enterprising, hard working and well focused".

A keen sportsman, he was chairman of Bidco's football team, was a Manchester United fan, had taken part in 24-hour swim and cycling events, as well as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Colleague Sandip Dave, writing on a tribute blog for Mr Shah that has attracted dozens of entries, said that he was "a hero" who had battled serious illness.

Mr Dave wrote: " In the past, due to his will power and the prayers of all his well wishers, he fought a dire illness and regained his health and was back stronger and more determined in his goals for the company."

The al Qaida-linked Somali Islamic extremist rebel group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 67 people, including five Britons.

Investigators have recovered a vehicle believed to have been used by the terrorists who led the attack. Five terrorists died in the four-day stand-off and the Kenyans say they are holding 11 suspects in custody in relation to the attack - including at least seven who are thought to have been arrested at the airport.

International forensic experts, including teams from Scotland Yard, the United States, Israel, Germany and Canada, are helping sift through the debris for clues.

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