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'I was forced to guide pirates'

A Kenyan man claimed in court yesterday that he had been abducted at gunpoint and forced to guide the gang that killed British tourist David Tebbutt and kidnapped his wife Judith.

Ali Babitu Kololo has been charged with kidnap and murder following the attack on the luxury resort only 20 miles from the border with Somalia.

The 25-year-old, who handed himself in to police the day after the September 11 killing, says he was threatened by the real attackers who made him lead them to the British couple staying at the remote Kiwayu Safari Village.

Local residents say the accused previously worked as a night watchman at the resort and have supported his claims that he acted under duress.

Meanwhile, reports suggested that Mrs Tebbutt, a 56-year-old social worker, was being held in central Somalia.

She is said to suffer from a serious hearing impairment and the Foreign Office has appealed for her captors to "show compassion".

A spokesman purporting to speak for the gang holding the Briton said that she was alive and well but not sleeping.

The Tebbutts, from Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire, had been the only guests at the remote Indian Ocean holiday spot and had arrived there after a visit to Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve.

Gunshots were heard in the grounds of Kiwayu in the early hours of September 11.

Mr Tebbutt, who is believed to have tried to protect his wife after gunmen stormed their bungalow, was found shot dead at the scene and his wife was dragged to a waiting speedboat.

Reports from the southern Somali port city of Kismayo that a "white woman" had been brought ashore led to fears that she may have been captured by the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab.

A spokesman for the group has denied any involvement in the attack across the border and it is now believed that she is being held by a Somali pirate gang which has moved her to another part of the country.

The move to the Somali interior has inevitably stirred comparisons with Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple from Tunbridge Wells, who were held for 13 months by pirates after being captured off-shore on their yacht.

They were released after a ransom was paid.

Mr Kololo has been remanded in custody until October 25 and a second man, Issa Sheck Saadi, also Kenyan, was due to appear before the court today.

Investigators from the Metropolitan Police have joined Kenyan counterparts at the Kiwayu resort and Prime Minister David Cameron said the Government was doing everything possible to get Mrs Tebbutt released.

The attack on one of the luxury beach resorts in Kenya's north-east could prove to be disastrous for the country's vital tourism sector.

Kenya's proximity to the pirate gangs and Islamist militias of war-torn Somalia has long been seen as a serious threat to the country's security.

The east African nation had been talking itself up as an economic rival to South Africa for the continent's lucrative safari sector, but it is now expected to face cancellations over heightened security concerns.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph