Voice of America (Washington, DC)

25 July 2014

Kenya: German Tourist Killed On Increasingly Violent Kenyan Coast

A German female tourist was killed in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa on Thursday in the same area where a Russian visitor was murdered earlier in July by a criminal gang, police sources said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Khalid Ibrahim, a community security official in Mombasa's historic Old Town, was one of the first on the scene after the shooting, and said he had alerted police, according to the French news agency AFP.

"Three men ran off after the attack," Ibrahim said, adding that the tourist had been shot once at point blank range.

Kenya's coast has been the scene of a series of bombings and shootings by al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants and gunmen that have left dozens of Kenyans dead in recent months.

Peace Corps suspends program

Meanwhile, the United States Peace Corps program - which has about 50 volunteers working in sometimes remote parts of Kenya - said on Thursday it was suspending operations and pulling out volunteers due to growing security concerns.

A statement to The Associated Press from the State Department said that the Peace Corps "has been closely monitoring the security environment in Kenya ... and has decided to officially suspend the program in Kenya."

The Peace Corps will monitor the security situation and determine when volunteers can return, it said.

Some Western nations have warned against travel to Mombasa because of the violence.

"A female tourist was shot in Kibokoni area," Robert Sicharani, head of Tourist Police Unit in Kenya's Coast region, told Reuters, adding that the case was being investigated. "She was confirmed dead at the hospital," he said.

He did not give details about the woman's identity but a police source, who asked not to be named, said she was a 28-year-old German and that she had not been robbed.

The source said her Ugandan male companion was injured in the attack.

A Russian woman was killed by a gang which had robbed her companions on July 6 in the same area, which lies near Mombasa's historic Fort Jesus.

Militants, gunmen

Last month al-Shabab, which has carried out a number of attacks on Kenyan soil in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, warned foreign tourists to stay out of Kenya, AFP reported.

"Kenya is now officially a war zone and as such any tourists visiting the country do so at their own peril," the group said in a statement in June.

VOA also reported on Thursday that nearly 100 people have died since mid-June in a series of ambushes and raids in northern Kenya's coastal Lamu County.

Despite the heavy presence of Kenyan security forces, civilians are increasingly targeted in the attacks, forcing many locals to flee or spend their nights in government facilities.

Colonel Benjamin Mwema, spokesperson for the Political Parties Collaborative Leaders Forum, an umbrella organization for Kenyan politics, said the ongoing violence is turning Kenya's coastal region into a breeding ground for terrorists.

Mohammed Yusuf contributed to this report from Nairobi. Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

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