Police are searching for a gang who killed a British holidaymaker and kidnapped his wife from a resort in Kenya. The couple were staying at the luxury Kiwayu Safari Village, north of Lamu Island close to the border with Somalia, when the armed men attacked.

Kenyan police said the motive was unknown, but they were treating it as a “bandit attack”. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office called for the release of the unnamed woman, who is said to have been taken away by speedboat.

“We have deployed a consular team from our High Commission in Nairobi and are offering all possible support to the family of those involved,” a spokesman said.

“Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We are working to secure the safe and swift release of the British national who has been kidnapped and ask those involved to show compassion and release the individual immediately.”

The couple were attacked on the first night of their stay at the resort, officials in Kenya said, with reports suggesting the bandits broke into their accommodation.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said that the couple had come from visiting the Masai Mara reserve and were the resort’s only guests. Tourist resorts have not been targeted before but the site is near Somalia and pirates could be involved, according to reports.

Kenyan officials said a police officer saw six men taking away a woman in a speed boat. The FCO continues to advise against all but essential travel to within18 miles of Kenya’s border with Somalia. There have been previous attacks by Somali militia into Kenya, it says.

Kenyan police said they had been on high alert in many areas of the country on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.