The Kenyan Kidnapping Represents Fundamental Regional Issues that Need to be Tackled
Before I begin looking at the issues at hand, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the two British nationals who were recently attacked overnight in Kenya.
Having spent less than a day at Kiwayu Safari village, a resort resting to the north of the Kenya-Somalia border, David, 58, and Judith Tebbutt, 56, experienced terrifying events which have unfortunately led to the fatal shooting of David, as he tried to protect his wife, and the kidnapping of Judith. The events occurred early Sunday morning when six armed men burst in to where the couple were staying. Although the resort claims to place heavy emphasis on safety and security, the heavily armed gang managed to sneak past twenty-two security guards and six armed policeman.
There is speculation that Mrs Tebbutt was taken by speedboat into Somalia; however, nobody is currently aware of her whereabouts and the exact motives of those who took her. No ransoms have yet been demanded.
Moreover, an enormous search operation, by land, sea and air, has been launched. However, there have not yet been any signs or traces of those involved. One man has so far been arrested and the Kenyan and British authorities are working closely together in the surrounding areas to find Mrs. Tebbutt.
In a recent statement released by the Foreign Office, a spokesperson has stated – “We are working to secure the safe and swift release of the British National who has been kidnapped and ask those involved to show compassion and release the individual immediately.” Unfortunately, nobody knows the results that this will yield.
As the world hopes for the return and safety for Mrs. Tebbutt, it is important to look at the broader issues that this case represents. There is concern that she might have been kidnapped either by al-Shabaab militants, part of an al-Qaida linked group, or by a criminal gang who may try to sell her to al-Shabaab which primarily operates in the southern regions of Somalia. Although this has not been confirmed, as there is still potential involvement of Somali pirates or other criminals, the current circumstances of the region do point to it being a significant possibility.
Having discussed issues of piracy and al-Shabbab militia groups in previous articles, these unfortunate events did not come as a complete surprise. It is fundamental that the international community continues to work with Somalia in search of long-term stability. By helping stabilize and legitimize countries such as Somalia, which is particularly important at a time when it is facing a severe humanitarian crisis, not only does the international community feel safer and less anxious about occurrences in the region, but it also reaps the other many potential benefits of doing so. Perhaps more accurately, the tragic events that the Tebbutt’s have endured can be said to reflect many of the deeper issues occuring in the region that still need to be tackled.