Scores held as long search for Italian hots up

Ms Sylivia Constance, the italian aid worker who was kidnapped in Malindi.
An MCA and a senior Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officer are among suspects arrested as the search for kidnapped Italian aid worker Silvia Constanza Romano intensifies.

About 22 others, including the wife of suspected kidnapper, are also in custody as the intelligence sources allege the abduction was plotted in Witu in Lamu and that Syllvia has been shaved and draped in a hijab by her abductors to conceal her identity. 

Early this week, Tana River assembly nominated MCA Dumal Haji Osman was among those brought before Malindi principal magistrate amid reports that Syllvia’s health is deteriorating.

According to security sources, the MCA was detained in Assa area of Tana Delta. Some of the suspects were allegedly caught on camera ferrying food and medical supplies to the area where the multi-agency task force leading the rescue efforts believe Syllvia and her abductors are holed up.

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Roads to Hola, Garsen and Witu have remained deserted. Five road blocks have been erected along the roads with passengers plying the routes subjected to various checks on identity cards and other documents such as driving license for private and government vehicles.

Early last week, authorities suspended all boat and canoe traffic on the Tana River fearing the abductors could use this mode of transport to ferry the missing Italian into the Indian Ocean towards Somalia.

The arrest of the MCA and sergeant Abdullahi  Bille, who is based at Minjila in Tana Delta, and his brother who has not been identified were arrested in Hola town where they were said to be hiding for four days after learning they were being sought in connection with the kidnap and the detention of the KWS officer has spurred new theories.

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Mohamed Riziki, the OCPD Tana Delta declined to discuss this matter. “I am not aware of such an arrest. There is no record of such arrest,” Riziki said yesterday.

But the KWS officer’s relative told the Sunday Standard that his brother was arrested by the military. The relative who is also a civil servant said, “my brother was picked in Hola by the Kenya Defense Forces and upto now we do not know where he is.”

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He said search in all police stations in the area have been negative and appealed to Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to help him find his brother.

Syllvia was abducted in remote Chakama village where she was in charge of Africa Milele Onlus orphanage and organisation where she had reported about two weeks earlier. Other foreigners on the property left hurriedly a day before the November 20 raid.

Meanwhile reports say intelligence failure led to the kidnap. There is confusion from the changing narratives and unconvincing statements from key officials.

“There is no evidence that the incident is a terrorist attack. What we know is that the men involved in the attack were of Somali origin and Al Shabaab is a terrorist group and always any terrorist group will come out and pronounce if they have conducted any attack that is when we can conclude,” Ochieng said.

“Up to now we have not received any pronouncement to link them to the attack and that is why we cannot say Al Shabaab.”

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Kenya Wildlife ServiceKWSSilvia Constanza RomanoWituLamuKidnappingAl Shabaab