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Illness was the cause, not terrorism

The Cardinal incorrectly reported this week that graduate student Komi Kossi’s parents were killed in a terrorist attack. We received the following clarification from U of L spokesperson Mark Hebert: “There has unfortunately been a misunderstanding regarding the story about a University of Louisville student losing both of his parents in the terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya.  In a conversation requested by UofL officials this morning, Komi Kossi said both of his parents died within the past two weeks but their deaths were the result of illness, not terrorism.  Kossi said he was unaware until the weekend that his parents’ deaths were being linked to the mall attack in Kenya.  Kossi says his parents lived in Togo.  The UofL Department of Justice Administration had collected about $2,500 in checks from faculty, staff and people in the community to help Kossi pay for airfare to Kenya.   Those checks are being returned.  We regret the misunderstanding but appreciate the outpouring of support from members of the Loiusville community willing to contribute to the well-being of a stanger. We are certainly lucky to live in such a supportive community.”


The School of Justice Administration is coordinating a university-wide effort to help send a student home to Kenya to mourn the loss of his parents after they were killed by terrorists in a Nairobi shopping mall.

Komi Kossi, a first-year graduate student, lost both parents in the attacks half a world away. More than 70 people are confirmed dead and around 50 more are still listed as missing and unaccounted for. This includes nationals from a dozen different countries but no American citizens.

Kossi’s immediate focus upon learning of their deaths became getting home to Kenya to finalize his family’s arrangements. Airfare to Nairobi is more than $1,000. U of L is giving him the $500 maximum from the student emergency fund. That still leaves Kossi short of the amount needed to get back to Kenya.

“I would like to thank the faculty and staff at the University of Louisville as well as the Louisville community for their generosity and support.,” Kossi said in a statement released through U of L. “This is a sad time for myself and my family. Knowing we have so many friends who are willing to help us diminishes our sorrow. I thank you all.”

Kossi’s plight came to light when he asked a classmate to return some books to a professor for him. Dianna Anderson said his demeanor was somber.

“He said ‘These are books I borrowed from our professor, could you return them?’ And I said ‘Sure, you don’t need them anymore?’ And he said ‘No, unfortunately I had to withdraw from classes today,’” said Anderson. “Honestly, he appeared as if he wanted to cry. It was very disheartening when he explained he had lost his mother and father.”

U of L chair Deborah Keeling told reporters that Kossi’s father was killed in the initial attack and that his mother died from injuries she had sustained several days later.

“We were all impacted by it as we watched it go down on television, but then when you find out one of your own has two family members who were killed, that makes it something very personal and close to home,” said Keeling of the attacks. The university is also allowing him to withdraw from all classes with no academic financial penalties.

Anyone who would like to help him make the journey home can call the U of L Justice Administration Department at 502-852-6567. As of press-time Kossi still had not left Louisville.

SIDE: Komi Kossi, a first year graduate student, lost both of his parents in the recent Kenyan mall attack.



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