Briton killed and wife kidnapped at luxury resort in Kenya

 

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The Independent Online

A British tourist has been murdered and his wife kidnapped at a luxurious Kenyan beach resort close to the Somali border.

At least five men broke into the couple's accommodation shortly after 2am on Sunday, at the Kiwayu Safari Village resort, around 30 miles north of the island resort of Lamu, and 27 miles south of the border.

The Foreign Office has delayed the release of details of the couple while Kenyan authorities try to find the missing woman.

Reports indicate that the British man, believed to be in his 40s, was shot dead trying to protect his wife.

Eric Kiraithe, spokesman for Kenya's police, said that a "massive" search and rescue operation was under way. "We are hoping that we will be able to at least find the lady," he said.

On its website, the Foreign Office has restated its advice against all but essential travel to within 20 miles of the Somali border.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are working closely with the Kenyan authorities to establish further details. We have deployed a consular team from our high commission in Nairobi and are offering all possible support to the family of those involved."

There are fears that the attackers had crossed into Kenya from Somalia, and that they were interested more in kidnapping than routine burglary.

The resort lies several hundred miles south of the busy shipping lanes at the Gulf of Aden, where kidnapping by pirates has become increasingly common, but the presence of a multi-national fleet of warships there has seen attacks spread further afield. While kidnappings are rare, a raid on a holiday resort is a new and alarming development, which could have dire consequences for Kenya's tourism industry. Local police have pointed the finger at Al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgency group that is ideologically aligned with al-Qa'ida and is fighting a civil war against the embattled transitional government in Mogadishu.

Historically, Al-Shabaab have concentrated their war efforts on attacks inside Somalia, but in recent years their leaders have indicated their intention to attack targets outside their homeland. Last summer, a bar in the Ugandan capital Kampala, popular with expats and tourists, was hit by a bomb that killed 78 people. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.

Kismayo, a town less than 50 miles from where the attack took place, remains al-Shabaab's stronghold. While pirates tend to kidnap for financial reasons, Al-Shabaab is more interested in taking Western hostages for political propaganda purposes.

Kiwayu Safari Village charges $450 (£278) per person per night. The artist Tracey Emin and the actress Imelda Staunton have stayed there.

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