Armed bandits hit luxury Kenyan safari camp

Armed bandits raided a luxury safari camp near Kenya’s famed Maasai Mara game reserve early on Tuesday, stealing cash and passports from British and United States tourists staying there, officials said.

About six men with AK-47 assault rifles and machetes stormed the Mara Porini Camp in a private conservancy just outside the wildlife-rich reserve shortly after midnight, taking staff and guests by surprise, they said.

No one was seriously injured in the attack, according to police, although officials with the Nairobi-based Gamewatchers Safaris that runs the camp said staff members were shaken up in the altercation shortly after midnight.

Joshua Keyum, the police chief in Narok, the nearest town to the area, told Agence France-Presse the gang escaped after taking items from four Britons and five Americans who had filled the exclusive camp to capacity to see the annual wildebeest migration.

“We are investigating the motive behind the attack,” he said in Narok, about 220km south-west of Nairobi. “We are following crucial leads that may lead to arrests.”

Authorities said sniffer dogs had been dispatched to an area near the camp where the passports and some of the stolen cash was found in a bid to track the assailants who fled on foot toward the nearby Tanzanian border.

Gamewatchers Safaris operations director Gurmukh Jabbal said in Nairobi that the thieves had gone through two of the camp’s six tents before they fled when staff told them armed security guards had been summoned.

The Mara Porini Camp, which can run guests up to $425 per person per night, is one of many exclusive tented safari camps in and around the sprawling Maasai Mara that stretches across Kenya’s border with Tanzania.

The reserve is world famous for the annual wildebeest migration that is now under way and is a mainstay of Kenya’s important tourism industry.

Criminal activity in Kenyan game parks and reserves is rare, although the latest incident comes amid a surge in violent crime in and around Nairobi, including the weekend stabbing and robbery of Russia’s ambassador to Kenya.

The capital is known wryly by many residents as “Nairobbery” because of its high crime rate.—AFP

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