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Monday, September 12, 2011

Piracy spreading to land - British woman kidnapped from Kenya

At Daegu, Korea – Kenyans secured 7 gold medals (David Lekuta Rudisha 800 metres ; Asbel Kiprop 1500 metres ; Abel Kirui Marathon ; Ezekiel Kemboi 3000 metres steeplechase ;  Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot 5000 metres ;  Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot 10,000 metres and  Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat Marathon)

Kenya is not only known for long distance but more famous for its National parks and wildlife reserves   such as Tsavo National Park, Nakuru national park, the Maasai Mara, Aberdares national park, that attract tourists from all over the world.  This is a country in Africa lying on the equator with the Indian Ocean to its south-east. It is bordered by Somalia to the north-east, Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the north-west, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south.   Kiwayuu is a small island in the eastern part of the Lamu Archipelago, situated in the Kiunga Marine National Reserve. The main economic activity is fishing and attracts tourists for its snorkelling and diving pools.  Nestled in the mainland dunes, the oasis of Kiwayu Safari Village overlooks a sheltered lagoon to the north of Kiwayu Island.   The tourist would enjoy their stay in a banda built in the local Bajuni tradition with palm thatched roof and carpeted floor.  …………… and this place is in news for wrong reasons !

I have posted earlier on the lurking danger at Horn of Africa -  Piracy – a war-like act, robbery and criminal violence at sea. Much of the recent attacks are reported at the Gulf of Aden located in Arabian sea between Yemen and Somalia – as most of the perpetrators are somalians, this is now termed as Somalian piracy.  Earlier, it was thought that the targets were mainly cargo ships and oil tankers  - every time a new dimension of this ugly aggression unravels itself.  There were capture of vessels, keeping to custody the crew for ransom for months and some threat to damaging the ship. 

The famous Publishing house in UK noted for  publication of great deal of poetry  as also wide range of fiction - Faber and Faber might not have imagined that this could hurt them. 

According to EU defence officials, a French woman hostage was rescued from pirates near Yemen,  her captors were detained,  and her husband was feared missing.  EU’s anti-piracy force together with the Spanish troops, intercepted a skiff (generally used for essentially unrelated styles of small boats)on 10th Sept -  two days after the hostages’ catamaran was found.  According to officials, seven pirates were detained and the hostage was released.  The woman who was lucky to be freed was said to be Evelyne combo -  she and her husband Christian Colombo, a former French navy crewman, were experienced sailors who wanted to see the world, being fully aware of the risks involved in their sea trips, sailing through the gulf of Aden.  Sadly, subsequent reports reveal that Pirates who attacked their yacht in the Gulf of Aden killed its French skipper before abandoning it.  It is now reported that the 55-year-old Christian Colombo  was killed during the attack and his body thrown overboard before their catamaran was  abandoned.   Reports suggest that there  were signs of struggle, including bullet holes and blood stains.  The French frigate Surcouf then detected a suspect vessel and on Saturday the Spanish warship SPS Galicia chased it down, storming the skiff, rescuing Colombo's widow and arresting seven alleged pirates.

The castle at lamu island – photo from Daily Mail.

In an unrelated incident occurring at land rather than sea, Pirates  reportedly  murdered a British tourist and kidnapped his wife from an exclusive Kenyan resort.  David and Judith Tebbutt were attacked at night by a gang carrying guns within hours of arriving in a beach cottage close to the border with lawless Somalia.  Daily Mail reports that armed bandits arrived at the private resort by speedboat at midnight on Saturday, stormed into the couple’s secluded hut, which had just a piece of cloth as the door, and demanded all their money. The gunmen gained entry very easily because only a piece of cloth was used in the place of the door at their cottage. It is thought Mr Tebbutt, 58, who is finance director of publishers Faber and Faber, tried to stop the gang but he died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. The pirates then forced Mrs Tebbutt, 56, into the motorboat and locals reported that they sped off north in the direction of Somalia. Despite helicopters, speed boats and a spotter plane deployed in the search, no sightings of her have been reported.

Perhaps it is the first time of Somali Sea pirates spanning their wings to land and abducting western hostages who are becoming sitting duck victims in the lucrative multi-million pound business in  ransom demands.   It is stated that rooms at this resort cost around £600 a night in the off season, boasts of boasts around-the-clock security with armed  guards. The Tebbutts were the only residents when the attack took place.

The kidnapping follows the ordeal that Paul and Rachel Chandler went through when they were held by Somali pirates for more than a year.  People search for peace and tranquilty and end up holidaying in unconquered places – such nightmarish incidents cast a shadow on such plans and will adversely affect tourism. 

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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