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Kibaki warns foreign aggressors after kidnaps

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – President Mwai Kibaki has warned foreign aggressors that Kenya will use all means necessary to defend its borders.

He said his government will also adequately secure the borders.

“We would like to remind any external forces who threaten our peace that as a country we stand ready to defend our nation’s territorial integrity,” Kibaki said on Friday in an apparent reference to recent kidnapping incidents involving a Frenchwoman and a Briton who were snatched by Al Shabab militiamen from Lamu.

An armed gang seized Marie Dedieu, 66, early on Saturday from Manda Island in the Lamu archipelago, and fled by sea. It was the second kidnapping of a foreigner from the area in less than a month.

Dedieu and her partner had only returned from a trip to France earlier the same week, a factor that led authorities to conclude the attackers may have been tipped off by locals believed to be working with the foreign militants.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere on Thursday said they were working to free Dedieu and British tourist Judith Tebbutt who was seized on September 11 north of Lamu and also taken to Somalia.

On Friday, President Kibaki warned that his government would not tolerate lawlessness in the country and cross border crime.

“The security of the Kenyan people and those who reside in our country is a matter that my government attaches greatest importance to,” he warned after opening a modern library at Kenyatta University.

Kenyan police said on Thursday they had arrested seven people over the kidnapping of the handicapped Frenchwoman seized from her beachfront home at a prized resort island and taken to Somalia.

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“It is not possible that someone can come from a neighbouring country and go straight to a particular house and take away someone,” Mr Iteere told reporters.

“It is not possible at all and that is why we strongly believe that they (abductors) have got sympathisers or cells or what we refer to as sleepers within the region.

“And those are the people we are targeting and we have already made several arrests … but we believe the larger group is from across (the border),” Iteere added.

Capital News independently learnt that some seven suspects were being held in Mombasa for questioning.

“Those in custody include a security guard who worked within the area where the woman was kidnapped,” a police source with knowledge of the ongoing investigation said.

“Investigators are interrogating them to establish if they know how the abduction occurred or have any link with the abductors because the foreign gang must have been working with some locals in the region.”

Police headquarters has hinted that there is a lot happening in the search and rescue of the kidnapped women but warned revealing details of the probe would jeopardise their efforts.

“There is a lot that is happening in a bid to ensure we get the kidnapped women back safely but we don’t want to keep on talking about the nitty gritty because this are issues that can easily jeopardise the investigations,” Iteere said, exuding confidence that the women will be brought back safely.

Already, Kenya has enhanced on-ground and sea security patrols using modern equipment, vehicles, motor boats and even helicopters.

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“We have the resources and enough personnel, as much as we do not guarantee static security in all the more than 2,000 hotels in the coastal region, I am assuring tourists and locals that I am satisfied with the security arrangements in place,” Iteere said.


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