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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 12:30 GMT
Kenyans on trial for terror attacks
(From l to r) Mohamed Kubwa Seif, Mohamed Kubwa and Said Saggar Ahmed, three suspected men of attacking an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa
Murder charges against the three were dropped in November
The trial of three Kenyans charged with plotting to bomb the US embassy in Nairobi has opened.

They are accused of "conspiracy to commit a felony" over the blast which killed 213 in 1998 and of plotting to blow up the new embassy last year.

They are also charged with involvement in last year's suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel near the resort of Mombasa, which killed at least 12.

The al-Qaeda network has said it carried out the 1998 embassy bombing.

Mohammed Kubwa Seif, Said Saggar Ahmed and Salmin Mohamed Khamisi were originally charged with murder but theses were dropped in November.

They sat calmly in the packed, noisy courtroom as prosecutors called their first witnesses.

The BBC's Andrew Harding in Nairobi says the Kenyan authorities are under pressure to secure convictions.

The US has complained about the absence of breakthroughs despite evidence that al-Qaeda has a firm foothold in Kenya.

Tourism hit

The prosecution says that the trio are "sworn suicide bombers".

Said Saggar Ahmed is alleged to have run an Islamic school "where he teaches or offers teachings on terrorism".

Four other men - Omar Said Omar, Mohamed Kubwa, Aboud Rogo Mohammed and Mohamed Ali Saleh Nabhan - are due to face murder charges in connection with the same bombings later this month.

Kenya's once thriving tourism industry had been badly hit by fears of renewed terror attacks since the 1998 bombing.

Last year, both the UK and the US warned travellers to beware of possible attacks.

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19 Jun 03  |  Business
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Kenya fears al-Qaeda attack
14 May 03  |  Africa

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