Skip to main content

Kenya police hunt for kidnapped English tourist

By David McKenzie, CNN
Armed policemen patrol a stretch of beach near Kiwayu Safari village, Kenya, on September 12, 2011.
Armed policemen patrol a stretch of beach near Kiwayu Safari village, Kenya, on September 12, 2011.
  • Judith Tebbut was abducted, her husband was killed
  • The incident took place at a remote safari lodge near Somalia
  • Kenya depends heavily on tourism

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenyan and English police officers are conducting an "active search" for an English tourist kidnapped from a remote Kenyan resort, a local police spokesman said Friday.

"We cannot stop the search," Kenya police spokesman Charles Owino. "We do not take security lightly in Kenya."

Owino told CNN that the search was focused on the border regions of Kenya and Somalia and through a "significant network" of contacts across the border.

An English couple staying at a remote safari lodge on the coast, near the border with Somalia were attacked early Sunday.

David Tebbut was shot dead and his wife, Judith Tebbut, was abducted, police said.

The couple had arrived at the hotel Saturday afternoon after spending a week in the Masai Mara game reserve in southwestern Kenya. They were the sole guests in the hotel, which has cloth doors.

UK man killed, wife kidnapped in Kenya
  • Kenya
  • Kidnapping

"From what we can be able to gather, he resisted, and that's why he was shot dead," Kenyan Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said Sunday. "Maybe they wanted to take the two, but he resisted and that's why he was shot dead."

Kenya's economy depends heavily on tourism and Kenyan officials publicly and privately worry that the case will affect the industry, which took years to recover after the bloody post-election violence in 2008.

"We are putting in a lot of effort because this really affects our nation. We want to believe that God willing, that we find her," said Owino.

He said that two suspects have been interrogated in the case and hinted that the kidnapping at a luxury resort could have been an inside job.

"There are strong indications that someone at the resort was acting maliciously," said Owino. "We are looking at those leads very strongly."

There is speculation as to who attacked the resort and kidnapped Tebbut, but very few solid facts have emerged as to who carried out the kidnapping and where the victim was taken.

A maritime security source aware of the situation said Sunday that Islamic militants probably took Judith Tebbut by boat toward Ras Kamboni in Somalia.

Iteere said the motive was not known. "We are treating it just as a bandit attack," he said.