The reason why attackers seem to be choosing tourists on the northern Kenyan coast is that they are “soft targets,” adds Mr. Middleton. “There’s a general assumption that tourists are easy targets, and easy to get money out of them if you hold them for ransom. It’s much harder, of course to get money from tourists than it is from journalists or aid workers or a shipping magnate, but there’s no shortage of people in Somalia who are looking for soft targets and an easy way to make money.”
As a result of the attacks, both France and Britain have advised their citizens to avoid the district of Lamu. But Middleton says that the twin kidnappings would be of concern all up and down the tourist-friendly Kenyan coast, and as far away as the Seychelles. “It’s worry for Kenya of course,” Middleton says, “but also for someplace like the Seychelles, which has had a number of pirate attacks in the past, and which certainly has tourists on the beach.”
In the Saturday attack, armed men shot their way into the property, which like many has no fence, no locked door, and is sold on its rustic simplicity right on the beach. Kenyan police said Sunday that Ms. Dedieu had already been taken into Somalia, 60 miles to the north. Dedieu uses a wheelchair, which her attackers left behind. Stephen Ikua, District Commissioner for Lamu, said he strongly suspects that Al Shabab, Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Islamists, were responsible.