Somali Islamists Shebab are suspected of being behind the murder of a British tourist and the kidnapping of his wife in the night from Saturday to Sunday in a holiday village near Lamu, north of the coast of Kenya, an attack against an unprecedented tourist destination in the country for anti-Israeli attacks in Mombasa in 2002.
"I can confirm that two British nationals were attacked in a tourist complex, north of Lamu, near the border between Kenya and Somalia," said Sunday a spokesman for the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "One was killed and another kidnapped."
The British couple staying at a luxury resort by the sea near the island of Kiwayu, about forty miles south of the Somali border and about fifty miles north of Lamu.
The two Britons had arrived Saturday in the day in the holiday village, they were the only residents, said Kenyan police chief, Mathew Iteere. They were attacked in the night from Saturday to midnight Sunday, said Iteere, a schedule that suggests that the couple was assaulted in his room, as claimed by news reports.
"The man was shot as he resisted. His wife was abducted and we are conducting a search and rescue," added the police official.
Mathew Iteere refused to "speculate" on the perpetrators of the attack, arguing that "no group had claimed responsibility." But another police official Kenya, who requested anonymity, was far more positive to the press: "we suspect that these are the Shebab. We are to continue to the border with Somalia" with small boats and helicopters.
If the involvement of the Somali Islamists were confirmed, it would be their first attack against foreign tourists in neighboring Kenya. The only attack to date against a Kenyan tourist establishment dates back to November 2002, when a suicide attack against a hotel owned by Israeli interests in the large coastal city of Mombasa had 15 deaths.
No charge Shebab - whose organization, the war against the fragile Somali transitional government in Mogadishu supported by the international community, controls most of southern Somalia - had expressed Sunday evening.
The archipelago of Lamu and the surrounding around Manda Bay, is one of the most popular destinations for luxury tourism in Kenya. Although located near the border with Somalia, this site, which are also built many magnificent homes belonging to wealthy foreign nationals, had been spared so far from any such attack.
The islands have even used the occasion of sanctuary for those responsible for al-Qaida. The alleged leader of al Qaeda in East Africa, the Comorian Fazul Abdullah Muhammad, was killed in Mogadishu in June, and was discreetly installed in 2000 on the island of Siyu, part of the archipelago , marrying a girl from the same village, according to Kenyan news reports.