KENYAN HOTEL BOMBING: AL-QUEDA ATTACK OR MOSSAD PROVOCATION?
It seems very curious that Kenyan officials could make such a quick determination that that the suicide bombings against Israeli targets in Kenya was the handiwork of Al-queda. Incidently, the Mossad is known to have a strong presence in Kenya.
At least eight killed in Kenya hotel blast
· Car bomb explodes outside hotel
· Three suicide bombers dead
· Kenyan official blames al-Qaida
· Missiles fired at Israeli passenger jet
Staff and agencies
Thursday November 28, 2002
Three suicide bombers blew up a car outside a hotel popular with Israeli tourists on the Kenyan coast today, killing at least eight people and injuring 80 more.
A witness reported that a four wheel drive vehicle packed with explosives rammed into the Paradise hotel, an Israeli-owned establishment about 15 miles north of the port city of Mombasa. Kenyan police are believed to have arrested two people in Mombasa in connection with the attack.
Minutes before the hotel attack, terrorists fired two missiles at an Israeli jet carrying about 270 passengers and crew but missed the plane, Kenyan police said. Another team of three people were involved in that attack and police were searching for them, a Kenyan police official said.
Police spokesman Kimgori Mwangi told BBC World television of the hotel attack: "The three suicide bombers died on the spot, six Kenyan hotel workers and two Israeli guests also died - a total of 11 dead."
The Israeli foreign minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said two Israeli children were among the dead.
Mr Mwangi said the suicide bombers were suspected to be of Arab origin, and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network immediately came under suspicion for the twin attacks. The Kenyan ambassador in Israel told the Reuters news agency there was "no doubt" al-Qaida was behind the blast.
A radical Muslim cleric in London, Abu Hamza al-Masri, told Reuters: "It is definitely al-Qaida or a militant group that supports it. They have mostly attacked westerners because the Israelis are difficult to reach, but Israelis are their priority."
Aharon Hammel, who owns a hotel in Kikambala near the Paradise, told Israel army radio: "I can see the bodies of local residents. I don't know about the Israelis. The whole hotel is burned. The whole hotel. There is a lot of smoke. The whole hotel is burned totally, both wings, the lobby and everything, it's all burned."
The bomb went off at about 8am local time (0500 GMT). Colonel Bonventur Wendo, director of Kenya's national disaster centre, said police and intelligence officers were at scene.
"I heard a loud explosion," an Israeli hotel guest, identified only as Rami, told Israel TV's Channel Two. Another guest, Osnat, said there were many wounded, including a number of children. Some of the wounded were taken to a nearby small hospital.
Mr Mwangi said "some people who are suspected to be of Arab origin" fired two missiles at an Israeli plane as it took off from Mombasa. The missiles were launched from a white Mitsubishi Pajero just over a mile from the airport, he said.
The Arkia charter flight that came under fire later landed safely near Tel Aviv, having initially prepared for an emergency landing in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. No is believed to have been hurt in the attack.
The pilot saw a flash of light on the left side of the plane during the attack, said a company official, Shlomo Hanael.
Mr Netanyahu said the missile attack signalled "a very dangerous escalation of terror".
"It means that terror organisations and the regimes behind them are able to arm themselves with weapons which can cause mass casualties anywhere and everywhere. Today, they're firing the missiles at Israeli planes, tomorrow they'll fire missiles at American planes, British planes, every country's aircraft. Therefore, there can be no compromise with terror," Mr Netanyahu said.
Mr Netanyahu said it was "quite possible" that al-Qaida was behind the attacks, but that Israel was also looking into other possibilities.
Israel was also sending a plane with doctors to Kenya to help treat and evacuate the wounded.
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, condemned the attack and offered assistance to the Kenyan authorities. He said the Foreign Office would be reviewing its travel advice for Kenya.
Kenya was the scene of a major terrorist attack on August 7 1998, when a car bomb blast outside the US embassy in Nairobi killed 219 people - the vast majority Kenyan - and wounded 5,000.
A nearly simultaneous attack on the US embassy in neighbouring Tanzania killed 12 people and injured more than 80.
US prosecutors indicted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in connection with both bombings.
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