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Pirates kidnap elderly Frenchwoman from Kenyan resort

The woman, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was taken from her home on Manda Island this morning.

The MV Pacific Express which was set on fire by suspected Somali pirates on 21 September  is towed along the Likoni channel by Kenya Ports Authority tug boats to the port of Mombasa
The MV Pacific Express which was set on fire by suspected Somali pirates on 21 September is towed along the Likoni channel by Kenya Ports Authority tug boats to the port of Mombasa
Image: AP Photo

SUSPECTED SOMALI PIRATES driving their boat under the cover of darkness have kidnapped an elderly Frenchwoman on a resort island in northern Kenya

According to a local resident, the woman often uses a wheelchair.

The Kenyan navy and police have given chase to the boat, and Reuters is reporting that there is now a stand off taking place between the coastguard and the suspected pirates.

If pirates are involved, it would be the second such attack near the popular tourist town of Lamu in a month. In early September, pirates shot dead a British man and kidnapped his wife from a resort near Lamu.

People near the scene of this morning’s kidnapping heard gunshots at around 3 am. A local resident said that the Frenchwoman owns a house on Manda Island and lives there half the year. She gets around with the help of a wheelchair or personal assistants.

Manda Island is just across the channel from Lamu, an old resort town. Two kidnappings within a month have the potential to greatly harm the tourist trade in the area just before the busy holiday season.

Pirates once focused primarily on big ships at sea, but in recent years have also attacked private yachts, capturing Europeans or Americans on private trips.

As U.S. and European navies have increased their patrols of the Indian Ocean, and as large ships have increased their on-board defenses, pirates may be looking for easier targets to keep ransom payments coming in.

Pirates kidnapped and held a British couple — the Chandlers — for more than a year. Rachel and Paul Chandler finally returned home last November after they were taken from their yacht near Tanzania.

“It’s profit-motived action. As we know the British couple we captured before paid huge ransoms, so sometimes these targets are a big gain that gives you more than ships,” a man who identified himself as a pirate commander named Bile Hussein told The Associated Press last week.

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British couple kidnapped by Somalis return home>

- Additional reporting by AP

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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