The escalation in Nairobi has left many international students on edge, including some in Windsor.

University of Windsor student, Joshua Ndolo, who recently landed in the Rose City, got a call no 20-year-old wants to hear.

“Overall through friends of friends and close friends, I would say there were four people that I know of that were in the mall," says Ndolo.

All four people, including a close childhood friend, died in the attack at the Westgate Mall in Kenya on Saturday when gunmen stormed the building and began firing at shoppers.

“Everyone's child that was there was someone's child, someone important in the country," says Ndolo.

The panic echoed for those in Windsor.

"This scenario this isn't the first time, which should be the scariest part of Kenyan life," says Ndolo.

The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab, which has ties to al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Westgate Mall, saying it is retribution for Kenyan forces' 2011 push into neighbouring Somalia.

Ndolo first heard of this group through a family member who worked for the United Nations.

“She actually warned me about going to West Gate, the UN had already gotten threats from Al Shabab,” says Ndolo. “So if you went to West Gate, it was pretty secure, they would search your car top to bottom."

But the terrorist attack was carried out, with mass casualties known to cater to tourists and the middle-class.

“They chose their target because they wanted to send a message internationally," says Boris Blasberg, a University of Windsor student from Kenya.

"It's very close to home because it's very familiar because you have clear images in your head of the place itself," Blasberg.

On Sunday, an unverified English-language Twitter account that purported to belong to the press office for al-Shabab posted what it claimed was a list of names of the terrorists who had stormed the mall.

The list includes a “24 y.o. from Ontario Canada.” Also on the list were the names of three people from the U.S., one from Finland and one from the United Kingdom.

"It's very close to home because it's very familiar because you have clear images in your head of the place itself," says Blasberg.

Though family and friends of Blasberg's are safe, Ndolo can't help but worry about loved ones back home.

“Al-Shabab is getting larger and larger, I mean a couple of years, al-Shabab was nothing to worry about, and now they're growing each day," says Ndolo.

With files from