NAIROBI — A Kenyan driver was shot dead and a Swiss tourist was seriously injured Friday in an attack on their vehicle near a game park in eastern Kenya, sources said.
“It was an armed attack on a tourist vehicle,” said foreign ministry spokesman Stefan von Below, adding that two Swiss nationals were in the car and that one of them, a woman, “was seriously wounded and has been taken to hospital.”
The other Swiss, a man, was not injured, he said, adding that the Swiss embassy Kenya was “in touch with the victim’s family.”
A local police officer told AFP that the attack involved two groups. “The information we have is that the (first group of) attackers came from the forest and opened fire at the vehicle; it sped off and another group a few metres away, also from the forest, shot at it, fatally wounding the driver,” he said.
“After the attack, the driver died on the spot,” the officer added.
The attack took place in the early afternoon near the Shaba National Reserve some 250 kilometres (150 miles) north of the capital Nairobi.
A local resident had earlier told AFP that one of the tourists was hit by gunfire and the other sustained injuries after the vehicle turned over.
The attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents involving foreigners in Kenya, all the others being close to the border with Somalia some 500 kilometres to the north.
But the police officer said the incident was “not at all” linked to Al-Shebab, Somali Islamists against whom Kenya is waging a military campaign in southern Somalia.
“From what is emerging it appears it is just bandits in this region, but they are being hunted down,” the officer said, asking not to be named.
Local police chief Marcus Ochola confirmed the attack, adding: “A manhunt for the criminals is under way.”
County council chairman Adan Ali, vowing that the attackers would be brought to justice, said the Shaba reserve is a big revenue earner for the area.
“The park is our cash cow, and we shall not compromise on the security of our visitors,” he told AFP.
The area around the reserve is notorious for sporadic bandit activity and conflicts between local communities.
Shaba is also known for the activities of the late conservationist and author Joy Adamson of “Born Free” fame who released the first hand-raised leopards into the park.
Kenya is reeling from recent attacks on foreigners on its soil.
In September, gunmen attacked a British couple in their fifties — Judith and David Tebbutt — on holiday north of Lamu on the Indian Ocean coast.
David Tebbutt was shot dead and his wife was captured. She is believed to have been sold to pirates now holding her in central Somalia.
On October 1 gunmen snatched a disabled French woman from her home on the Lamu archipelago. She later died in captivity.
On October 13 two Spanish aid workers were seized by gunmen in broad daylight from the Dadaab refugee camp close to the Somali border.
Tourism is a key foreign currency earner for Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy. The sector had only recently recovered from violence that erupted after disputed 2007 polls.
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