Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kenya: Russian Tourist Dies in Mombasa, 29 Killed, Advice: All Tourists Should Avoid Country

According to AFP and Reuters, and not unpredictably, gunmen killed at least 29 people in raids on two separate areas on the Kenyan coast on Sunday (July 6) amidst reports that a foreign tourist was shot and killed in Mombasa.

The unidentified Russian tourist died after being shot while touring a historical site in Mombasa on Sunday, police said.

Earlier the Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabaab, which attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013, which killed 65 and injured hundreds, said it had staged an attack on Saturday evening (July 5) in the coastal area. 

Nine people lost their lives at the Hindi trading center in Lamu, near the scene of attacks in which 65 people were killed last month. 

Another 20 people were killed in another attack in the Gamba area of neighboring Tana River. Both areas are situated north of the port of Mombasa. 

COMMENT: No doubt, the travel warnings released by Western embassies in recent weeks have been validated.

With the loss of life to a foreign tourist, albeit a single fatality, it is likely that travel warnings re: Kenya will be much more vigorous.

Although it should go without saying, I strongly recommend that tourists should cross Kenya off their list until such time as the Kenyan police can demonstrate by action that they can protect anyone.

Of course, the much more worrisome reality is that Kenyan police are seemingly impotent to be be able to neutralize any al-Shabaab attack,  which suggests that Kenya has become a lawless nation.

Officials said a group of 10-15 men struck at Hindi, situated 15 kilometers from the town of Lamu, and close to the town of Mpeketoni, which was nearly destroyed in one of the attacks in June.

Al-Shabaab said it had broken into a police station at Gamba and freed their countryman from detention. 

Some of those freed were linked to the Mpeketoni attacks two weeks ago. We still don't know how many detainees were freed until we verify with registers at the station,"a police source told Reuters.

According to police, the Russian tourist was shot and killed while touring Fort Jesus, a 16th century Portuguese-built fort and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and two others when three gunmen opened fire and grabbed a tote-bag containing cameras, phones and other personal belongings.

Mombasa has been the scene of worsening unrest in recent months with a string of shootings and bombings blamed on al-Shabaab rebels. 

Last month al-Shabaab, which has carried out a number of attacks on Kenyan soil in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, warned foreign tourists to stay out of Kenya.

"Kenya is now officially a war-zone and as such any tourists visiting the country do so at their own peril," the group said in a statement less than three weeks ago.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.