Kenya attacks undermine plans for east African trade hub

Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:15am EDT
 
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* More than 65 killed in attacks near Kenyan port site

* Lamu port to be used for Ugandan, Kenyan oil exports

* $25.5 bln project to give S.Sudan, Ethiopia sea access

* Kenyan tourism in decline after repeat Islamist attacks

By Drazen Jorgic

LAMU, Kenya, June 20 (Reuters) - The latest in a string of militant attacks on Kenya's coast has dealt a fresh blow to the economy, but the threat this time goes beyond the tourist trade to an ambitious $25.5 billion port and transport scheme next to the historic town of Lamu.

Lamu residents, often working in tourism like others along Kenya's palm-fringed coastline, have seen visitors flee with each assault, growing used to empty alleyways that once bustled with visitors and idle dhows awaiting clients on the waterfront.

But, till now, most attacks targeted Mombasa, 240 km (150 miles) south. This week gunmen hit closer to Lamu, striking twice in 24 hours around Mpeketoni town just 30 km (20 miles) from the 14th century Arab trading post. About 65 people died.

"Our future hinges on getting our port," said Munawar Abdalla, 36, a local mason crafting ornate chairs styled with ebony and camel bone. "But if there's no peace here how can the Lamu port work out. I'm very worried."   Continued...