A range of sources in Mombasa and Nairobi report that a second tourist kidnapping has taken place, this time at the Manda Bay Resort near Lamu. A French woman was abducted in a style very similar to the kidnapping of a British woman from the Kiwayu Safari Resort three weeks ago.
Currently there is no confirmation that any shots were fired (unlike at Kiwayu where the husband of the British tourist was killed during the abduction), but this latest development, and the fact that the abduction has happened much closer to “safer” Lamu, has the tourism industry in jitters now.
A local member of parliament and the Lamu police chief apparently confirmed the abduction last night to a Reuters correspondent in Kenya, and police and security services are now reportedly in pursuit of the abductors, who fled by speed boat towards the Somali border in a near rerun of the kidnapping three weeks ago.
Tourism sources in Kenya are presently not willing to make any public comments on the matter, citing ‘lack of reliable information’ though have promised to go on record just as soon as they have been given all the details, but more likely waiting for clearance from government in view of this rather sensitive and potentially very damaging development.
One regular source from Mombasa though did say off the record: ‘if this is true than we, our security forces have failed to blanket the coast from the Somali border to Lamu and towards Malindi with surveillance. Only a few weeks ago we had the case of a British woman being taken, her husband was shot, and now again and from right under our noses in Lamu? It may be the same group that was behind the first kidnapping and all searches in Somali from ground and air have failed to trace them so far and get the British lady back. If we are to survive this incident, if it is at all true because our media in Kenya are not saying anything about it, we need to reassure our tour operators that Kenya is safe, not by words but by action. Still I need to find out if this really is true from my colleagues in Lamu and Malindi. This strip of coast has always been sensitive and we know that Somali groups can stage hit and run attacks. That area should be full of our navy boats and our army on the ground to give us a sense of safety.’
Latest information from Kenya says that Kenyan coast guard and navy vessels have cornered the abductors of a French tourist from Manda Island last night and that presently there seems to be a standoff. It is understood that this is still in Kenyan waters and that the abductors have failed to reach the Somali border and cross it.