Annews24_ NAIROBI, Kenya Around eight pm gunmen kidnapped an Italian volunteer along Kenya’s coast and wounded several people, including three children, police said Wednesday.
Five people were wounded by the attackers, who shot indiscriminately at around 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Chakama trading center in the county of Kilifi, said Kenya’s police chief, Joseph Boinnet.
The gunmen abducted Sylvia Constanza Romano, 23, an Italian woman working for Africa Milele Onlus, according to Boinnet and her organization. The motive for the attack isn’t clear and the identity of the attackers is not yet known, he said.
The gunmen came looking a white woman, said Ronald Kazungu Ngala, 19, who said he witnessed Romano’s violent kidnapping. Ngala’s high school education is being sponsored by Africa Milele Onlus and he had gone to the NGO’s offices to present his grade 10 end of year report card to Romano, he said.
He first heard gunfire which made all the shops close and people in the trading center hide.
At around 7.30 p.m. six men, some armed with guns and others with machetes and clubs stormed into the Milele offices and demanded to know where is the “mgeni” (Swahili for visitor).
“I told them she had left to go and get a power bank but they didn’t believe me and surged into the room where they found her,” he said.
Ngala said he followed them and heard one gunman ask the other if she is the one and when he was answered in the affirmative, he proceeded to “slap her very hard until she fell.”
“Ronald please, please! Ronald, please help,” she said, according to Ngala. “I tried to push away a man who was smothering her while holding her down for her hands to be tied behind her back but someone hit me in the head with a club and I got dizzy. She told me to help myself and I ran for the man at the door with a club and pushed him away and escaped.” He said two of the gunmen who were outside the room shot at onlookers.
Ngala said the gunmen took Romano across the Galana River.
Somali-based Islamic extremists have been blamed in the past for a spate of kidnappings of foreigners along Kenya’s coast. Kenya said it was prompted to send troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight al-Shabab militants after the kidnappings of four foreigners.
One of the foreigners, a cancer-stricken quadriplegic Frenchwoman kidnapped off a Kenyan resort island, died in captivity in Somalia.
Confronted by a slump in tourism following the kidnappings, Kenya deployed troops to Somalia later in October to fight the militants. Al-Shabab has since carried out numerous attacks in Kenya, saying it is vengeance for the country’s troop presence in Somalia.
Story by ap