A leading Kenyan hotel chain has disputed official figures for tourist arrivals, saying violent attacks by militant Islamists have scared away far more tourists than the authorities admit. The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) said on Friday that arrivals in the first four months of the year were down 4 percent from a year earlier to 381,000. TPS Eastern Africa, which operates the Serena chain of hotels, luxury lodges and tented camps, said in a weekend statement: "We must be joking!" It said its own survey for the first half of the year showed business on the important coastal tourism circuit fell by 30-50 percent on last year while inland trips to destinations such as to the Maasai Mara game reserve and Mount Kenya had fallen by 20 percent.
The Russian Defence Ministry on Monday cast doubt on pictures that Washington said showed Russia had recently shelled Ukrainian military positions. The United States has accused Russia of instigating the conflict in eastern Ukraine where pro-Moscow separatists are fighting central government forces. Russia has denied any involvement in the conflict. On Sunday, the U.S. State Department released images it said showed Russian forces had fired across the border at the Ukrainian military.