Kidnapping, shootings in Kenya

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Gunmen kidnapped an Italian volunteer in south-east Kenya and shot five people on Tuesday, police said, in the first abduction of a foreigner since a series of raids blamed on Somali Islamist militants six years ago.

Men armed with AK-47 rifles attacked Chakama and seized the 23-year-old woman working for the Italian charity Africa Milele Onlus, the National Police Service said.

The attackers spoke Somali and opened fire on people fleeing the scene, witness Chad Joshua Kazungu told Reuters. “There were three attackers and they targeted the Italian lady,” he said.

Five people were wounded, including a 10-year-old shot in the eye and a 12-year-old hit in the thigh, police said. They were all taken to hospital.

Chakama in Kenya’s Kilifi region is inland from the coastal tourist resort Malindi.

Police had not identified the attackers and their motives were unclear.

Another unnamed witness told Kenyan KTN News the attackers grabbed the woman as she came out of her room.
“Their aim was to get money but they took her to the river and, before leaving the village, started shooting in the air. They shot a woman and four boys,” the witness said.

Tourist numbers and earnings plunged sharply from 2012 to 2016 as militants from the Al Shabaab group in neighbouring Somalia launched attacks on Kenya in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

A number of foreigners were kidnapped on the coast in 2011 and 2012 but none have been abducted since.

The Italian embassy in Nairobi declined to comment on Tuesday’s abduction referring callers to the foreign ministry in Rome.

There was no immediate comment from the charity which, according to its website, was founded in 2011 by an Italian couple after they honeymooned in Africa.