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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 13:04 GMT
Witness 'spoke to Mombasa bombers'
Paradise Hotel on fire on Thursday
Deche said the attack had taken both lives and jobs
A Kenyan farmer has given details of a conversation he says he had with the men believed to have bombed the Paradise Hotel near Mombasa on Thursday.

Khamis Haro Deche, 39, says the bombers briefly parked their car in his farmyard before heading off towards the Israeli-owned hotel about one kilometre (0.6 miles) away.

Khamis Haro Deche
Deche: "Shook hands with fire"
Minutes later a bomb planted in the car detonated, killing 13 people including the bombers.

Mr Deche says there were only two men, both Arabs, in the car but one of them said they were waiting for a friend coming from the hotel.

Going up to the car - a brown Mitsubishi Pajero with tinted windows and a red stripe which had just pulled into his yard - he saw a slight, young man with a nervous, shifty manner in the passenger seat, and an older, stockily-built driver, the Associated Press reports.

The men Mr Deche saw
Both Arabs and practising Muslims; one could speak some Kiswahili
Said they were waiting for a friend coming from the hotel
Equipped with mobile phones
It was just after 0800; the blast came at 0835, shortly after a failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner at Mombasa airport. He greeted the two with handshakes and the younger man spoke to him in the local language, Kiswahili, but with an Arabic accent and hesitantly, saying they were waiting for their friend.

"These are not good people. I shook hands with fire," Mr Deche recalled afterwards. "I did not know. If you shake hands with a fire you will be burned."

Missing man

The farmer noted that both men had indentations on their foreheads which, he said, are common among devout Muslims who bow their heads to the ground in prayer.

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

He also noticed several mobile phones on the dash-board.

Mr Deche was interviewed by police and some "white men" the day after the attack and he gave them the number of the car, KAA 853N, which he had noted because of a spate of car thefts in the area.

The police told him that the men in the vehicle were suspects in the hotel bombing.

Shown a picture of Babu Mohamed al-Misri, an Egyptian fugitive accused by the United States of bombing its embassy in Nairobi in 1998, Mr Deche said that he was not one of the men in the vehicle.

He also insisted there were only two men although reports of the attack speak of a three-man suicide squad.

Mr Deche, a subsistence farmer and fisherman, said the bombers had not only taken life, but they had destroyed local jobs. Two of his young daughters had earned extra money by delivering firewood to the Paradise Hotel.


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