Kenya: Gunmen abduct Italian volunteer, shoot locals
Armed militants in Kenya have kidnapped an Italian volunteer in a raid on a village in the southeast of the country, while shooting and wounding five residents, police say.
“The attackers fired indiscriminately at residents” before kidnapping the 23-year-old, who worked as a volunteer at an orphanage, during the attack after dark on Tuesday evening at Chakama, a small village in the coastal Kilifi County, police announced in a statement on Wednesday.
The village is nearly 60 kilometers inland from the coastal town of Malindi, which is popular with Italian tourists and expatriates.
According to police authorities, those injured included three children.
The wounded have been transferred to a local hospital as police “deployed to track down the criminals,” police added.
Police said the armed kidnappers were armed with AK-47 rifles, and warned against speculation — rife in the local Kenyan press — that Daesh-linked al-Shabab militants from Somalia may have been behind the abduction.
Police chief Joseph Boinnet also emphasized that he did not yet know who the attackers were. “We are investigating, but people should stop speculating,” he told reporters.
Another police officer, speaking to AFP on the condition of anonymity about the ongoing probe, said, “We understand that there has been a dispute at that orphanage and that is what we are looking at.”
A wave of violence on the coast in 2011 saw a British man shot dead and his wife abducted from a resort island, while weeks later a French woman was snatched from her home on the Lamu archipelago.
Soon afterwards, al-Shabab militants abducted two Spanish aid workers from the Dadaab refugee camp close to the Somali border in the only confirmed case of kidnapping inside Kenya by the Daesh-affiliated militant group.
Tourist numbers and revenue from tourism in Kenya dropped sharply from 2012 to 2016 as the Somalia-based militants launched a series of attacks on Kenyan soil in retaliation for Kenya’s participation in military operations against al-Shabab in Somalia.