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Friday, 29 November, 2002, 18:11 GMT
Dozen questioned after Kenya attacks
Still from amateur video moments after the attack
The blast and fire reduced the hotel to cinders
Twelve people are being held for questioning by Kenyan police investigating Thursday's twin attacks on Israeli targets in Mombasa.

The police say all but one are foreigners, and include six Pakistanis, three Somalis, an American and a Spaniard.

Terrorism is dangerous, not only to Europe and the United States, but also to Africa, and we must fight it

Daniel arap Moi
Police said 10 of them were detained because of questions about how they had entered Kenya.

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, visiting the hotel where a suicide bombing took place, said the attacks showed terrorism was dangerous not only to Europe and the United States, but also to Africa.

But his Vice-President, Musalia Mudavadi, expressed dismay that the country had become a battleground for other people's wars.

US and Israeli security officers have joined the hunt for those responsible for attacks, with investigators sifting through the rubble of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel.

Open in new window : Kenya attacks
Click here to see images of the attacks in Kenya

At least 16 people died in the bombing, and there was an almost simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner.

'Wrong impression'

Speaking to the BBC's Newshour programme, Mr Mudavadi said Kenya was being dragged into issues over which it had very little influence.

I am a Kenyan living in Mombasa and I can't understand why these terrorists are targeting us. Please tell them to leave us alone.

Wandeto, Kenya
"We have maintained a very neutral policy all along ... so we feel that there is somebody somewhere who has got a completely wrong impression of the role that Kenya plays in the international arena," Mr Mudavadi told the BBC.

"Therefore we are completely angered that we have become a battleground, on issues that we have very little influence over."

Mr Mudavadi added that people "with an axe to grind" may now be operating inside Kenya.

Overnight, Israel evacuated 235 tourists, including 15 people injured in the hotel blast, and flew home the bodies of its three citizens who died on Thursday.

Australian warning

The US Government says the American woman arrested by the Kenyans and her Spanish husband were "innocent backpackers".

A State Department spokesman said the couple "were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," and would be freed shortly," the AFP news agency reports.

The Kenyan authorities have pledged to spare no effort in tracking down the attackers.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Full size graphic showing car bomb and missile attacks

"Immediately after the incident we detained two for interrogation and I feel they could give us useful information," Police Commissioner Philemon Abong'o told a news conference.

"By this morning we had also detained a further 10 people who are under our custody because we feel that some of them have information which could be useful to us," he said.

Two of those detained are reported to be a couple who checked out of a Mombasa hotel shortly after the blast.

Dvir Anter, 13, and Noy, 12,  Anter [photo: Haaretz newspaper]
Two Israeli boys were killed in the attack [photo: Haaretz newspaper]
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed revenge for the attack.

"Our long arm will get those who carried out the terror attacks. No-one will be forgiven," Mr Sharon said.

Mr Sharon has put the Mossad intelligence agency, which has a reputation for ruthlessness, in charge of investigating the attacks.

Mossad hunted down and killed several Palestinians suspected of the kidnap and murder of 11 Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

A previously unknown group called the Army of Palestine has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Kenyan and Israeli officials have speculated that Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network might have been responsible.

Australia, whose citizens were targeted in the Bali bombing last month, warned two weeks ago of an increased terrorist threat in Mombasa and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and told its citizens to avoid non-essential travel.

'Covered in blood'

Early on Thursday morning, two missiles were fired at a plane flying Israeli holidaymakers home from Mombasa. The missiles missed and the plane landed safely in Tel Aviv.

Kenyan soldier outside bombed hotel
Kenyans accounted for most of the fatalities
Shortly afterwards, three men careered into the Paradise Hotel in a jeep. One ran into the hotel lobby, where 60 newly-arrived Israelis were checking in, and detonated explosives.

The others remained in the car as it exploded, shattering windows and setting buildings on fire.

Popular destination

If confirmed as the work of al-Qaeda, it would be their first direct attack on Israelis - despite Bin Laden's hostility towards Israel.

Mombasa, on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, is a popular destination for foreign visitors and the hotel was frequented mainly by Israeli tourists.

In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania were attacked in nearly simultaneous car bombings that killed 219 people and 12 people respectively. The US blamed al-Qaeda.

Co-ordinated, synchronised attacks are a hallmark of al-Qaeda, and the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner says months of careful surveillance clearly went into the latest Kenya attacks.

The BBC's Jake Lynch
"Captured on amateur video, flames ripped through the hotel"
Philemon Abongo, Kenya's police commissioner
"We think that these people could have useful information"
Richard Perle of the Pentagon defence board
"We have to deal with the threat posed by Iraq and that of global terrorism"

Key stories



See also:

23 Nov 02 | Country profiles
29 Nov 02 | Media reports
29 Nov 02 | Politics
29 Nov 02 | Africa
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