Sad times are upon us

Based on what my mate Cat was telling me today, I decided to blog about the Singaporean girl who was held hostage and killed in Mumbai on Friday. Its very sad, and our thoughts are with her family and families of the people that were killed or wounded. Ms Lo Hwei Yen was the same age as us, and she had just gotten married last year.

Singaporean hostage killed in Mumbai
By Teo Xuanwei, TODAY | Posted: 29 November 2008 0837 hrs

Singapore: News of her body being found on the 19th floor of the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai filtered through to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) at about 8pm on Friday night.

Ms Lo Hwei Yen was found dead by Indian security personnel.

About one-and-a-half hours later,Ms Lo’s husband, Mr Michael Puhaindran, identified the body as that of his 28-year-old wife, making her the first Singaporean to have been killed in an overseas terrorist attack.

“We would like to convey our sincere condolences to the family of Ms Lo. This is a tragedy for all Singaporeans,” said a spokesperson from MFA, which alerted the media shortly before 6pm of a press conference later in the evening.

Before addressing the media, MFA had conveyed the tragic news to Ms Lo’s father-in-law, grassroots leader Mr S Puhaindran, and Ms Lo’s aunt. Family members were grieving at the Marine Parade home of the grassroots leader and were too distraught to speak to the media.

Ms Lo, a lawyer at Singapore-based offshore firm Stephenson Harwood, had been taken hostage on Wednesday night when armed militants took the Oberoi Hotel where she had been staying with guns and grenades.

The terrorists had threatened to harm her if Indian security forces continued to storm the building, said MFA’s director of Consulars, Mr Jai Singh Sohan.

Upon receiving the threat, MFA conveyed it to the Indian government.

“We could not confirm this (demand) earlier as the situation at that time was fluid and fast-evolving. It was not appropriate for us to do so at that time for operational reasons,” he said at the press conference.

MFA officials did not reveal more details about where exactly on the 19th floor Ms Lo’s body was found or how she died.

Earlier reports on Indian television said Indian commandos had engaged in fierce gun battles with the terrorists on the 19th floor of the hotel. An Australian woman, who was staying on that floor told the Sydney Morning Herald that she had barricaded herself in her room when Indian security forces threw grenades, tear gas and smoke bombs in a bid to rescue the guests.

Ms Lo is understood to have travelled to Mumbai to attend a business seminar on Wednesday morning.

Several hours later, she managed to contact her family and told them that she had been taken hostage.

MFA learnt of Ms Lo’s situation on Thursday at around 6am and flew her husband Michael and one of her aunts to Mumbai the same evening.

The Ministry also sent a two-man task force to Mumbai to provide assistance to Singaporeans in Mumbai.

Arrangements are being made to bring Ms Lo’s body back to Singapore.

“MFA and our mission in Mumbai will do everything necessary to assist the family in this very difficult time. We wish this tragedy had not occurred,” said Mr Jai. “We have done everything that we could.

“Our sympathies are also with the families of the other hostages who were killed in the attacks.”



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