Special report by Xinhua correspondents
Daniel Ooko and Chrispinus Omar
October 8, 2011 Dalkayaga@gmail.com
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Friday vowed tough action against external aggressors following two recent kidnappings of foreigners at the country’s coast near the border with Somalia.
Kibaki said the government will not tolerate activities that undermine the country’s territorial integrity by external forces that threaten the nation’s peace and stability.
"We would also like to remind any external forces who threaten our peace that as a country we stand ready to defend our nation’s territorial integrity," Kibaki said in Thika, about 20 kilometres east of Nairobi when he presided over the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the proposed Kenyatta University Teaching, Research and Referral Hospital.
The warning came a day after the Kenyan authorities said they had arrested seven people over the kidnapping of a handicapped Frenchwoman seized from her beachfront home at a prized resort island and taken to neighboring Somalia.
"Investigators are interrogating them to establish if they know how the abduction occurred or have any link with the abductors because the foreign gang must have been working with some locals in the region," Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told journalists on Thursday.
He said military and police helicopters are also being used for aerial surveillance at the Coast round the clock. The Kenyan military lost three men in last weekend’s bid to rescue the kidnapped French woman.
The police chief said it was not possible that someone can come from a neighboring country and go straight to a particular house and take away someone.
"It is not possible at all and that is why we strongly believe that they (abductors) have got sympathizers or cells or what we refer to as sleepers within the region. And those are the people we are targeting and we have already made several arrests .. but we believe the larger group is from across (the border)."
But President Kibaki reaffirmed that his government attaches immense priority to the security of it citizens in all parts of the country. "The security of the Kenyan people and those who reside in our country is a matter that my government attaches greatest importance to," he said.
The disabled French woman was kidnapped by an armed gang on Kenya’s northern resort island of Manda and taken to Somalia. The kidnap came three weeks after a British couple was attacked further north.
The two kidnappings have prompted several foreign governments to revise their travel advice. Britain and the United States, which provide the biggest number of tourists to Kenya, have warned their citizens to stay away from Lamu. France has also done so.
The 66-year-old Dedieu and her partner had only returned from a trip to France earlier the same week, a factor that led the authorities to conclude the attackers may have been tipped off.
The pattern of the latest incident mirrors that of the recent abduction of the British lady at Kiwayu Safari Village near the Kenya-Somali border during which one British citizen was killed by the abductors also from Ras Chiamboni.
On Sept. 11, a British woman, 56-year-old Judith Tebbutt, was abducted from another resort. Her husband David was killed in the attack. Kenyan officials have blamed the attacks on Somali pirates, or militants from the Islamist group al-Shabab.
During the ceremony on Friday, the president urged Kenyans to maintain peace as the nation continues to scale higher heights of development.
Underlining that peaceful co-existence among Kenyans is a critical pillar in transforming the nation. he called on Kenyans to respect different shades of opinion so as to build a truly democratic country.
Iteere said they were working to free Dedieu and British tourist Judith Tebbutt who was seized on September 11 north of Lamu and also taken to Somalia.
The police boss said the command centre is being used to receive and send information to teams in the field, including the police, the Navy and the Army.
He said naval ships had been deployed in the high seas while boats from the Maritime Police Unit, Kenya Wildlife Service, the Fisheries department as well as the Navy are patrolling the coastline.
Lamu is one of the main destinations for tourists, who generated millions of shillings for the country last year, making the industry the second largest foreign exchange earner after tea.
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