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Kenya in bid to free kidnapped French woman

media The beach home on Mandu Island of Marie Dedieu Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya says it has sent mediators to Somalia to negotiate the release of a disabled French woman who was snatched from her beachfront resort home on Saturday and taken to neighbouring war-torn Somalia.

The negotiations are reportedly an extension of talks already underway for the release of a British woman, Judith Tebutt, who was kidnapped three weeks ago from a resort north of Lamu in the Indian Ocean after her husband was shot dead by gunmen.

The official warned the negotiations could take time as Somalia has been without a government since 1991.

Officials claim Somalia’s al-Qaeda inspired Shebab rebels were behind the abduction. The rebels control large areas of southern Somalia, although Ras Kamboni were the rebels were heading is not currently under control of any single group.

The French woman has been identified as Marie Dedieu. A Kenyan government statement said she was taken from her home on Manda island by 10 heavily armed Somali bandits.

Kenyan forces went in pursuit, dispatching a helicopter and coastguard vessels, as the kidnappers made their way by speedboat to Ras Kamboni.

Coast Povince police chief Aggrey Adoli told the French news agency that they had not managed to find the woman, but had adequately secured the border to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The latest kidnapping prompted France and Britain to issue new travel advice, warning travellers to avoid Somalia and the nearby Kenyan coastline.

French foreign affairs spokesman Bernard Valero, said there were fears for Dedieu’s health. She has been confined to a wheelchair since an accident several years ago and needs to take medication every four hours.

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