Somali Gunmen Kidnap Wheelchair-Bound Tourist
Attackers may be in standoff at sea
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2011 4:25 PM CDT
Suspected Somali pirates driving their boat under the cover of darkness kidnapped an elderly Frenchwoman on a resort island in northern Kenya today.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Manda Bay)

(Newser) – Echoing other recent assaults by Somali gunmen, a gang of Somalis kidnapped a wheelchair-bound French tourist today from her bungalow in Kenya. The attackers slipped into one of East Africa's fanciest tourist areas by boat at around 3am, burst into her bungalow on Manda Island and dragged her away without her wheelchair, firing gunshots in the air to ward off staff members. Local workers may have tipped off the assailants, the New York Times reports.

Naval forces locked the gunmen into a standoff, but another report says the attackers have fled into Somali territory. The victim is described as an elderly French woman who has visited Manda Island for years. Kenya's tour operators are fearful that their billion-dollar tourist industry may be at risk, because Somalis attacked a British couple in Kenya only three weeks ago. Earlier this year, Somali pirates hijacked four Americans in the Arabian Sea and killed them before being captured.