Fri. May 24th, 2024

CNN — 

A 23-year-old German-Israeli woman who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival by Hamas militants on October 7 has been declared dead, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

“We are devastated to share that the body of 23-year-old German-Israeli Shani (Louk) was found and identified,” the ministry posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.

A source involved with her identification told CNN Louk’s death was announced after forensic examiners found a bone fragment from her skull.

The bone fragment was from the petrous part of the temporal bone, which is at the base of the skull, normally near the carotid artery, a major blood vessel that provides blood to the brain. A DNA test concluded the fragment belonged to Louk.

“She was a beautiful, lively person,” Ricarda Louk, Shani’s mother, told CNN Tuesday, a day after her death was confirmed. “She just enjoyed laughing, and experiencing life, and so it was just cut too short.”

Louk was attending the festival in southern Israel on October 7 when Hamas breached the border between Gaza and Israel.

Louk was kidnapped at the festival and “tortured and paraded around Gaza by Hamas terrorists,” the foreign ministry statement said, adding that she “experienced unfathomable horrors.”

The bone fragment, combined with the circumstances surrounding the October 7 attack and video that appeared to show Louk unconscious on the back of a Hamas truck, led investigators to conclude these were her remains.

Militants blocked off the road to the festival from the north and the south during their October 7 attack, before swarming the sprawling site on foot, videos from the site showed.

They then encircled the crowds on three sides, gunning them down and forcing them to flee over fields to the east.

Louk’s mother told CNN earlier this month that she last spoke to her daughter after hearing rockets and alarms sounding in southern Israel, calling to see if she’d made it to a secure location. Shani told her mother she was at the festival with few places to hide.

“She was going to her car and they had military people standing by the cars and were shooting so people couldn’t reach their cars, even to go away. And that’s when they took her,” Ricarda told CNN.

On Tuesday, Louk’s mother said the festival had turned from “a celebration to a nightmare.”

Describing her ordeal since her daughter’s abduction, Ricarda Louk added: After three weeks that you have no idea where your daughter is, what they’re doing to her… You don’t know if she’s alive or not, or injured, nothing. It’s just like you’re in a vacuum for three weeks, just hoping to get some signs.”

“And then suddenly you get the worst news,” she said. “We always had hopes. We were optimistic that she would come back.”

More than 260 bodies were found at the Nova festival site itself, according to Israeli rescue service Zaka but, based on CNN’s analysis, the total death toll could be even higher.

The body of Louk, a dual Israeli-German citizen, was seen on video seemingly unconscious on the back of a Hamas truck after the music festival attack.

“After the video, you saw that, it’s impossible to see if she’s alive or dead. It was very scary, and we were very worried,” Louk’s mother told CNN in the days after the rampage.

Her mother added that she had sought support from the German government to help free her daughter. “I don’t understand really how such a brutal thing can just happen in the middle of the day and it was a complete surprise,” Louk said.

By Delta

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