A British tourist was murdered and his wife was kidnapped by pirates during their stay at an exclusive Kenyan beach resort.
The British couple, David and Judith Tebbutt, was attacked on Saturday late in the night by a gang carrying guns within hours of arriving in a beach cottage close to the border with lawless Somalia.
The attackers arrived at the private resort by speedboat and stormed into the couple’s secluded hut, which had just a piece of cloth as the door, and demanded all their money.
David Tebbutt, 56, finance director of publishers Faber and Faber, was presumed to try to stop the gang but he died eventually from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The assailants then forced Judith Tebbutt, 56, into the motorboat and locals reported that they sped off north in the direction of Somalia.
Helicopters, speed boats and a spotter plane deployed in the search of the British woman, but no sightings of her have been reported.
On Sunday, there were suggestions Judith Tebbutt had been taken by an Islamist group Harakat al-Shabab al Mujahideen, an extremist group based in Somalia, according to The Guardian.
If Somali pirates are to blame, it would be the first time they had moved on to land to capture western hostages in what, at sea, has become a lucrative multi-million pound business in ransom demands.
All the other hostages – including British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler – have been taken during raids on ships and yachts in the Indian Ocean.
The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) confirmed yesterday it has sent a team from Nairobi to work with Kenyan authorities to secure Judith Tebbutt’s release.
According to Kenyan police commissioner Matthew Iteere, who revealed the identity of the couple:
“So far we are treating it as a bandit attack. We’ve not received any hint pointing at a terror group.
“The gunmen gained entry very easily because only a piece of cloth was used in the place of the door at their cottage. They may contact us demanding a ransom. Maybe they are from Somalia but we cannot be certain.”
The British couple is believed to have travelled to the Kenyan coast for the second part of a two-leg trip which had earlier seen them enjoy a safari in the Masai Mara game reserve.
David and Judith Tebbutt are from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire and have a 25-year-old son.
The couple had only checked into the Kiwayu Safari Village resort, near the island of Lamu, in the same day at 4:00 p.m.
They were the only tourists at the resort that boasts around-the-clock security with 21 guards who patrol alongside six police officers.
Kiwayu Safari Village resort has a total of 18 bungalows are spread out over a mile of beach. The price for a bungalow is £600 a night in September – the off-season, but the cost is nearer to £900 a night during the December peak season.
Mick Jagger, actress Imelda Staunton and artist Tracey Emin have stayed in the bungalows and it had been also considered by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their honeymoon.
Despite its setting near a national reserve, the resort is barely outside the safety zone from the Somali border recommended by the Foreign Office.
A statement posted on the FCO travel advice website said:
“We continue to advise against all but essential travel to within 30 kilometres of Kenya’s border with Somalia. There have been previous attacks by Somali militia into Kenya. Three aid workers were kidnapped in July 2009, and two western nuns in November 2008.”