Two charged in gang attack on Kenya tourists

A Kenyan court in Narok on Thursday charged two men with capital offenses in a brazen armed attack on a group of Japanese, South African and United States tourists in the country’s famed Maasai Mara game reserve this week.

Joseph ole Kisirien and Jonah Nainyeye, accused of being part of a seven-member gang that carried out the attack, were charged with four counts each of robbery with violence and theft at Narok Magistrate’s Court, about 150km west of Nairobi, a correspondent for news agency AFP said.

The pair, who were escorted into the courtroom under tight security, pleaded not guilty to the charges before senior resident magistrate Stephen Githinji, who set a preliminary hearing in the case for Friday, the correspondent said.

If convicted on the robbery with violence charges, the accused could face the death penalty, although Kenya has not executed a convict since 1987 and is now observing a moratorium on capital punishment.

Transmara chief police Commander Kalicha Roba said earlier that authorities had seized from the suspects items stolen from the tourists, including a video camera, binoculars, camping equipment, mosquito repellant, a thermos and towels.

The suspects are alleged to have been part of a gang that ambushed two safari vans carrying five Japanese, two South African and two US tourists in the western part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve on Monday evening as they returned to their lodges from a late-afternoon game drive.

Two of the Japanese were wounded, one with a serious hand injury, while the others were robbed and terrorised during the ordeal in which they were threatened with a rifle, clubs and knives, police said.

Roba said police are tracking down the rest of the bandits and searching for the other stolen property, which includes cash, cameras, passports and other personal effects.

The sprawling Maasai Mara, which stretches across Kenya’s south-western border with Tanzania, is world-famous for the annual migration of wildebeest, which is now under way, and is a mainstay of Kenya’s tourism industry.—Sapa-AFP

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