Africa: Kenya assures tourists of safety after abduction of Italian woman
Kenya on Wednesday assured tourists of their safety hours after unknown gunmen abducted an Italian woman in the coastal region of Kilifi.
Najib Balala, cabinet secretary for tourism and wildlife, said the abduction of 23-year-old Sylivia Constanca, a volunteer of Africa Milele Onlus, was an isolated incident. She was kidnapped when the gunmen raided Chakama trading centre, about 80 km west of tourism resort town of Malindi, injuring five Kenyans including three children.
“The ministry would like to affirm that this is an isolated incident that occurred well away from any popular tourist areas in Kilifi County,” Balala said in a statement.
“To this end, we would like to assure all that are travelling to and within Kenya that our country is safe and open for travel,” he added.
The East African nation’s coastal towns are the backbone of the country’s thriving tourism, which has been hit by the fear of terror attacks and the kidnapping of foreigners by Somali militants from resorts near the border with Somalia.
Balala said no hotel was affected nor any tourist injured during the Tuesday evening incident. “The coastal region remains safe and under constant surveillance,” he said.
“We are working with the tourism sector stakeholders to monitor and assist with any enquiries. We urge all intending to travel to Kenya to continue with their travel plans,” said Balala.
Kenya’s tourism suffered a decline in the number of tourists arrival since September 2011, when the Somali militant group, the al-Shabaab, carried out the kidnappings of tourists in the Lamu archipelago and the kidnapping of the Spanish volunteers.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle the militants in October 2011 after several attacks, including the kidnapping of a French woman and a British tourist – and the killing of her husband – damaged its key tourism industry.