A British tourist was killed and his wife was abducted by pirates during their stay in an exclusive Kenyan seaside resort.
The British couple David and Judith Thebes were attacked late Saturday night by a gang carrying weapons within hours of arriving at a beach villa near the border with illegal Somalia.
The attackers arrived at the private resort in a motorboat and stormed the couple’s secluded hut, which had only a piece of cloth as a door, and demanded all their money.
David Thebbat, 56, CFO of Faber and Faber, tried to stop the gang, but eventually died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
The attackers then forced Judith Theboth, 56, to board the motorboat, and locals said they were heading north toward Somalia.
Helicopters, speedboats and a tracking plane are in search of the British woman, but there are no reports of her.
On Sunday, there were allegations that Judith Theb was taken by the Islamist group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen, an extremist group based in Somalia, according to The Guardian.
If Somali pirates are to blame, this will be the first time they have been transferred ashore to catch Western hostages in what has become a lucrative multi-million pound business at sea under a ransom demand.
All the other hostages – including the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler – were taken during raids on ships and yachts in the Indian Ocean.
The FCO (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Community) confirmed yesterday that it had sent a team from Nairobi to work with the Kenyan authorities to secure the release of Judith Theboth.
According to Kenyan Police Commissioner Matthew Itiere, who revealed the couple’s identity:
“For now, we are treating it as a bandit attack. We have not received a hint pointing to a terrorist group.
“The armed men entered very easily because only a piece of cloth was used in place of the door of their villa. They can contact us with a ransom demand. They may be from Somalia, but we can’t be sure. “
The British couple is believed to have traveled to the Kenyan coast for the second part of the two-legged trip, which had previously seen them enjoy a safari in the Masai Mara Reserve.
David and Judith Thebes are from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire and have a 25-year-old son.
The couple had checked in only at Kiwayu Safari Village, near Lamu Island, the same day at 4 p.m.
They were the only tourists in the resort to boast a 24-hour security guard with 21 guards patrolling along with six police officers.
Kiwayu Safari Village has a total of 18 bungalows located on a mile of beach. The price of a bungalow is £ 600 per night in September – off-season, but the price is closer to £ 900 per night during the peak season in December.
Mick Jagger, actress Imelda Staunton and artist Tracy Emin stayed in the bungalows, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also toured it for their honeymoon.
Despite its location near a national reserve, the resort is just outside the security zone on the border with Somalia, recommended by the Foreign Ministry.
A statement posted on the FCO travel tips website said:
“We continue to recommend not traveling, except essentially, within 30 kilometers of Kenya’s border with Somalia. There have been previous attacks by Somali militias in Kenya. Three aid workers were abducted in July 2009 and two Western nuns in November 2008. “