Gunmen killed a British man and kidnapped his wife in a raid on a beach resort in northern Kenya near Somalia, Kenyan police and Britain’s Foreign Office 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,” the director of Kenya’s Criminal Investigation Department, Ndegwa Muhoro, told Reuters.
“We are yet to receive any communication from the armed militia and where they may be holding the British woman,” he said by phone from Rwanda, where he was on official duty.
He said anti-terrorism and special crimes teams were on the ground, but no arrests had yet been made, Reuters reports.
Abu Chiaba, a member of parliament for Lamu East and assistant fisheries minister, told Reuters several armed men attacked the Kiwayu Safari Village north of Lamu in the Kiunga Marine National Reserve just before dawn on Sunday.
“The tourists were at the cottage at dawn when armed men stormed in and ordered them to surrender all monies and other personal effects in their possession,” said Chiaba.
He said the gunmen shot the man, grabbed the woman and left the resort in a speed boat.
The British Foreign Office confirmed the nationalities of the two individuals. It said it was working to secure the immediate safe release of the woman.
The resort has 18 cottages, spread along a kilometre of pristine white beaches within a marine reserve that has a chain of islands, coral reefs and is home to sea turtles.
Chiaba said there was a need for beefed up security patrols along the border with Somalia because it was an area visited by tourists and provided a livelihood for local people.
Somali gunmen have attacked Westerners just across the border with Kenya on several occasions. Three aid workers were kidnapped in July 2009, and two western nuns in November 2008.
The south of Somalia bordering Kenya is mainly controlled by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels, who have been fighting the Western-backed government in the capital Mogadishu for more than four years.
Tourism is one of Kenya’s main foreign exchange earners and Britain is the leading source market. In the first six months of 2011, Britons made up 14.3 percent of record arrivals totalling 549,083.
Following the attack, Britain updated its advice for travellers to Kenya, cautioning against all but essential travel to areas within 30 km (19 miles) of Kenya’s border with Somalia.