Kenyan forces in shootout with French woman’s abductors

October 2nd, 2011 - 12:01 am ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Oct 1 (IANS) Kenya’s security forces were engaged in a fierce shootout with abductors of the French woman who was kidnapped early on Saturday from a resort island in northern Kenya.

National Security Minister George Saitoti also warned foreign militia that the East African nation will defend its territory following a series of abductions involving foreigners at the coastal town of Lamu.

“This is totally unacceptable to the government as it is a serious violation of Kenya’s territorial integrity. The government, therefore, reserves the right to self-defence of its territorial integrity,” Saitoti said in a statement issued Saturday in Nairobi.

The 66-year old former journalist returned two days ago from France when she was attacked by the pirates who were driving their boat under the cover of darkness.

The elderly woman who has been living in Manda island in her own house was abducted by about 10 heavily armed Somali bandits suspected to be Al shabaab operatives from Ras Chiamboni in Somalia, near the Kenyan border.

Saitoti said the government swung into action immediately after it learnt of the unfortunate incident by deploying its security forces to pursue the abductors as they sped northwards in a high-speed boat towards Ras Chiamboni.

“In the ensuing shoot-out between the abductors and the Kenyan Navy, several of the abductors were injured but managed to enter Ras Chiamboni,” Saitoti said.

The pattern of the latest incident mirrors that of the recent abduction of a British couple at Kiwayu safari village near the Kenya-Somali border, during which British man was killed by the abductors also from Ras Chiamboni.

The minister promised that every effort is being made to rescue the victim and reassured Kenyans that adequate security measures have been put in place.

“The government would like to send a strong warning to those bent on undermining Kenya’s security from within or without that they will be firmly dealt with by our security forces,” he said.

The latest incident occurred barely after a British couple was attacked in Kiwayu. The assailants shot dead the husband and kidnapped his wife.

The woman, Judith Tebbutt, was taken across the border to Somalia where she is still being held.

According to locals from the area, which borders Shela island, the kidnapped French woman, who is crippled and uses a wheelchair, was whisked from her home in the early hours of the morning and taken to a speed boat which the suspected pirates were using.

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