Nightly News   |  September 24, 2013

American describes harrowing Kenya mall escape

After avoiding both gunfire and grenades, Bendita Malakia has finally arrived back home following her ordeal at the Kenya mall where terrorists killed dozens of civilians. She hid for five hours until an American security team showed up and rescued her and the group of people she was hiding with. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> person was inside the mall, meeting a friend for lunch when the attack began. she is now back home safely in this country, and described to nbc tom costello about her harrowing ordeal, and how she lived to tell about it.

>> nice to see it. you survived. how do you feel? at dulles airport this afternoon, this american was finally back home.

>> it's okay, it's okay. it's okay.

>> reporter: a harvard-trained lawyer with the world bank , bendita was in kenya having lunch with a friend when terrorists ran in.

>> and then all of a sudden there was this explosion, and everybody like hits the floor. and we hear machine guns. and it was maybe ten seconds later, still trying to crawl out. it was a second explosion. but when they first came in, they were just shooting. i mean, they were not asking any questions, they were just shooting.

>> reporter: crawling away from the gunfire, bendita and her friend made it to an employee break room in a nearby store and waited with 15 other people. their only defense, a fire is distinguisher.

>> and then we would just hear like random things, like christian, muslim, and then people would respond, don't shoot, and then you would hear some people walk and some get shot.

>> reporter: for five hours they h hid, listening to the gunfire, she said to her father, please pray, i love you very much.

>> you just feel so helpless, you know? and then out of nowhere, an american security team showed up.

>> this american forces security guy came back and said look, we have been under a lot of pressure to get you out. if you guys want to get out, we understand it is dangerous, but this is probably your best shot .

>> reporter: everybody in the store room ran from the mall.

>> and then like within 30 feet of us, two grenades are thrown. and that was our first breakdown.

>> reporter: she says she doesn't know yet if she will return to kenya, but for now, she is home. tom costello, nbc news at dulles airport .