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Being a foreign service officer often involves genuine risk, not just endless cocktails at swishy parties, say those with strong ties to the diplomatic world — a fact driven home by the death of a Canadian who worked at the high commission in Kenya.

Annemarie Desloges, who served in the immigration section as a border liaison officer, was killed on Saturday in an attack by al-Shabab terrorists at a Nairobi shopping mall frequented by westerners.

"It underscores that these are very, very challenging jobs," said Fen Hampson, director of global security with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a non-partisan think-tank.

"I think...

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