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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Tanzania hits out at travel warnings
The wreckage of the Paradise Hotel in Kenya
Kenya and Tanzania have suffered several attacks
Tanzania's President, Benjamin Mkapa, has accused Western countries of attacking the economies of the developing world by issuing indiscriminate warnings of danger from terrorism.

"Terrorist attacks in their own countries do not generate travel advisories aimed at discouraging citizens of other countries from visiting," Mr Mkapa told a state banquet to honour a visit by Mwai Kibaki, President of neighbouring Kenya.

"Why is it that only when threats of terrorist attacks are perceived in our kind of countries are travel advisories issued?"

The upshot was severe economic damage, Mr Mkapa said, triggered by what were often "baseless suspicions".

In the firing line?

East Africa has suffered its share of attacks.

In 1998, the simultaneous bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by attackers suspected to be affiliated to al-Qaeda killed hundreds of people, mainly Kenyans and Tanzanians.

Then in November last year, a bomb destroyed an Israeli-owned hotel not far from the Kenyan resort of Mombasa - hard on the heels of a failed attack on an Israeli jetliner by a surface to air missile.

Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa
Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa accuses the West of bias
In May, renewed warnings caused the suspension of British Airways flights between the UK and Kenya - a move that the Kenyan Tourism Board says has cost the country more than $30m.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against travel to Kenya "unless you are on essential business travel", while travel to the Tanzanian autonomous island state of Zanzibar is also the subject of a warning of increased terrorism risk.

"I'm not going to get into any kind of dialogue with President Mkapa about this," an FCO spokesman told BBC News Online.

He added: "Obviously we're very conscious of the impact that travel advice can have on the countries concerned.

"However, we have to balance that with the ultimate responsibility to British nationals overseas."

Regional warnings

But it is not only Western countries that warn against travel to East Africa.

Less than 24 hours before Mr Mkapa's speech, Kenya banned flights to neighbouring Somalia, citing US advice of an unspecified terror threat.

The move triggered protests from Somali leader Abdulkassim Salat Hassan.

"There are no terrorist cells in Somalia, but our credibility is being dented by false accusations placed by some Somali warlords," he said.

Somalia protests over flight ban
23 Jun 03  |  Africa
Trade to boost East Africa
20 Jun 03  |  Business
UK issues Zanzibar terror warning
15 Jan 03  |  UK News

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