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Italian missing, many injured after armed raid on Malindi orphanage :: Kenya



Samini Garama Dadu being attended by medical personnel at the Malindi Sub County hospital in Kilifi County on November 21, 2018. [Nehemiah Okwembah/Standard]

An Italian volunteer working with destitute children in Kilifi has been abducted.

Syllvia Constance, 23, was seized by gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles at around 7.30pm on Tuesday.

Five people were injured during the raid at Chakama.

Ms Constance was attached to Africa Milele Onlus, an NGO operating in the area.

Yesterday, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala condemned the attack and vowed to ensure that security was restored and the victim rescued.

The motive of the attack remained unclear although some officials suggested robbery.

There were reports the Italian was being held several kilometres across the river from the scene of the attack.

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The injured were first treated at Chakama dispensary, then transferred to the Malindi sub-county hospital.

Shot in neck

Siamini Garama Dadu, 56, was shot in the neck, Ibrahim Said, 16, in the left knee, while Elias Mwaringa, 12, Mohamed Kalume, 10, and 20-year-old Mangi Katana were shot in the thighs.

Hospital sources said the injured were in a stable condition and responding well to treatment.

On Tuesday night a military helicopter flew over Chakama towards Sabaki River in a surveillance operation that it was suspected would precede a rescue mission.

Kilifi Police Commander Fredrick Ochieng’, however, described the attack as a “normal criminal act”, adding that there were no links between the attackers and Al Shabaab.

Mr Ochieng’ also said the Somali militant group had not claimed responsibility for the attack.

“There is no evidence the incident is a terrorist attack. What we know is that the men were of Somali origin. Al Shabaab is a terrorist group and such groups come out and say if they have conducted any attack. Up to now we have not received any pronouncement to link them to the attack,” he said.

Ochieng’ added: “Our multi-agency team, including KDF, is on the ground trying to trace them and we are hopeful that we will arrest them by the end of the day. We are asking the public to volunteer information that can assist police apprehend the attackers.”

The police boss claimed the attackers appeared to have had a motive for the kidnapping, adding that several foreigners work in the orphanage but most were away when the attack occurred.

“These foreign women have a children’s home which supports the less fortunate in the area. It is a volunteer group. The latest information is that on Tuesday there were four but they left and only one remained; the one who was kidnapped. The attackers had targeted the centre.”

In a telephone interview with The Standard, Mr Balala said Mr Boinnet had assured him that police and security personnel were pursuing the attackers.

“This is an isolated incident. We remain confident that our security forces will catch up with the attackers who injured our people and took away the Italian woman who worked as a volunteer at a local orphanage,” said Balala.

Influx of strangers

In a statement, Boinnet said police officers had been deployed to track down the attackers.

Chakama residents, however, accused security agencies of doing little to combat lawlessness in the region.

“Police and our own leaders are to blame for this. We normally see new faces coming into our villages yet we do not know what the aim of their visits,” said a resident who requested anonymity.

Other locals said the area had been experiencing an influx of strangers but security agencies had done little to vet the visitors.

“We are paying for our own mistakes, but who is responsible? If you allow a visitor into your home without knowing his or her name, this is what happens,” they said.

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