OFFICIALS are trying to secure the safe release of a kidnapped British tourist whose husband was murdered during a robbery at an exclusive Kenyan beach resort favoured by celebrities.
The terrifying attack happened at the remote Kiwayu Safari Village, close to the border with lawless Somalia, which has played host to the artist Tracey Emin, the actress Imelda Staunton and, reportedly, Mick Jagger.
There were suspicions the armed gang responsible was from Somalia, and may have used a speedboat to get away from the isolated island resort following the attack during the early hours of yesterday morning.
Publisher David Tebbutt (58) and his wife Juditch (56), of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, were attacked on the first night of their stay at the resort, officials in Kenya said, with reports suggesting the bandits broke into their accommodation.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said that the couple had come from visiting the Masai Mara reserve and were the resort's only guests.
The officer said the attackers, whose origins were unknown, took Mrs Tebbutt away by boat.
A Kenyan official said a policeman arrived to see six men carrying away the woman but decided not to shoot in case he hit the tourist.
There was speculation the kidnappers could be from an al-Qa'ida-linked insurgent group called al Shabab that holds much of southern Somalia.
A British Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are working to secure the safe and swift release of the British national who has been kidnapped and ask those involved to show compassion and release the individual immediately."
The Kiwayu resort's website states it takes "security and safety very seriously". It says: "We regularly review our security and safety to ensure it is both comprehensive and current."
Consisting of 18 luxury cottages spread along a private beach the resort is also popular among celebrities and backpackers alike. It currently charges ¤327 per adult per night to stay in its beach bungalows, which boast locally carved furniture and hammocks.
Following the attack, the UK Foreign Office has repeated its advice for travellers not to visit within 30 miles of the Kenya-Somalia border.