A holiday in the scenic village of Kiwayu Safari Village, Kenya, soon turned into a tragedy for a British couple after gunmen burst into their hut just after midnight on Sunday. In a brave attempt to resist the assailants who ordered them to handover their valuables, the husband was shot dead and the wife was dragged to the speedboat which the gunmen arrived on and has been missing ever since.
The Brits, David & Judith Tebbut, were the only people staying on the resort and were attacked on their first night of stay.
David Tebbutt,who is finance director of publishers Faber and Faber, was attacked at midnight on Saturday, within hours of arriving in a beach cottage close to the border with Somalia.
His wife Judith, 56, was then forced into a motorboat which sped off north towards the lawless country which has been plagued by pirate kidnappings.
There has been no word from Judith’s kidnappers but Ndegwa Muhoro, director of the country’s criminal investigation department said, “We believe it is a kidnap but we are yet to receive any communication from the alleged kidnappers, over 11 hours after they took her with them.”
Kenyan police are refusing to speculate the identity of the attackers but The Guardian has been told that the attackers might be members of the Somali Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab.
The Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not releasing the woman’s name for fear that may put her in further danger, but they say they are “doing all they can to release her”.
The area where the couple were attacked was very close to the Somalia border and the FCO have repeated their warning against going within 18 miles (30km) of the Kenya-Somalia border. They reminded travellers that there had been other attacks in Kenya by Somalia militia like the two western nuns who were kidnapped in November 2008 or the three aid workers who were abducted in July 2009.
In early reports of the story it was wrongly thought that the couple were staying on the holiday hotspot Lamu Island. The travel are now reassuring worried holidaymakers that the couple were attacked on the extremely remote Kiwayu, which is a short boat ride or flight from the luxurious Lamu.
Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism wants to reassure holidaymakers that their safety is of “paramount importance” in a statement that condemns the “senseless act of violence on innocent visitors”.