“The information we have is that the attackers came from the forest and opened fire at the vehicle, it sped off and another group a few metres away also from the forest shot at it, fatally wounding the driver,” a local police officer told AFP.
“After the attack, the driver died on the spot but the couple … sustained injuries,” the officer said.
A local resident told AFP one of the tourists had been hit by gunfire and the other one sustained injuries after the vehicle turned over.
No officials could identify the tourists or give their country of origin,
“The incident has not been linked to Al-Shebab, not at all,” the police officer said, referring to the Somali Islamists against whom Kenya is waging a military campaign in southern Somalia.
The Somali border is a good 500 kilometres from the scene of the incident. “From what is emerging it appears it is just bandits in this region but they are being hunted down,” the officer said, asking not to be named.
He declined to reveal where the couple were being treated but hinted they would be brought to Nairobi.
Local police chief Marcus Ochola confirmed the attack.
“A manhunt for the criminals is under way,” he said.
County council chairman Adan Ali promised the attackers would be brought to justice and said Shaba National Reserve, close to which the attack happened, is a big revenue earner for the area.
“The park is our cash cow, and we shall not compromise on the security of our visitors,” he told AFP.
The area around the reserve is well-known for sporadic bandit activity and conflicts between local communities.
Shaba reserve is also known for the activities of the late conservationist and author Joy Adamson of “Born Free” fame who released the first hand-raised leopards into the park.
The attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents involving foreigners in Kenya, all the others being close to the border with Somalia.
On the night of September 10, gunmen attacked a British couple in their fifties – Judith and David Tebbutt – on holiday north of Lamu on the Indian Ocean.
David Tebbutt was shot dead and his wife was captured. She is believed to have been sold to pirates now holding her in central Somalia.
On October 1 gunmen snatched a disabled Frenchwoman from her home on the Lamu archipelago. She later died in captivity.
On October 13 two Spanish aid workers were seized by gunmen in broad daylight from the Dadaab refugee camp close to the Somali border.
Tourism is a key foreign currency earner for Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy. The sector had only recently recovered from the violence that erupted after disputed 2007 polls. – Sapa-AFP