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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 10:22 GMT
Kenyan attack: Are you afraid to travel?
A Somali-based Islamic group may have carried out Thursday's twin attacks on Israeli targets in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, US officials say.
The US says the group, Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (AIAI), also known as the Islamic Union, is a prominent militant organisation in the Horn of Africa with links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
Twelve people were questioned by Kenyan police, including six Pakistanis, three Somalis and an American/Spanish couple who were released after the authorities accepted they had no involvement in the bombing.
Sixteen people including three suicide attackers were killed when bombers crashed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the front of a hotel.
The attack happened just as two missiles narrowly missed an Israeli jet carrying around 200 passengers that had taken off from the city's airport.
Mombasa, on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, is a popular destination for foreign visitors and the Paradise Hotel that was targeted is frequented mainly by Israeli tourists.
With "soft" targets like hotels and bars coming under attack from terrorists, and with missiles being fired at aircraft, are you afraid to travel abroad?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I have travelled to Kenya several times and have strong connections to the country, and I will continue to travel there and to other third world countries. As we have witnessed recently, events like the attack in Mombasa have not been limited to places like Kenya, but other tourist sites which have previously been named the safest in the world.
I feel there is no point in holding of my life just to live in fear of something that may never even happen. Kenya has experienced bad fortune over the last few years and yet those who do travel there have only good things to say about it.
In the knowledge that statistically it is more dangerous to cross the road than almost any other daily routine (including flying) I am not perturbed by recent events. If I pass some tests I have to do in March I am planning to treat myself to a week in Kenya. The recent events have not changed my mind.
Kavita Brahmbhatt, UK-Kenyan
We have been good hosts to people who have run away from war torn areas. Unfortunately they have brought with them violence and suffering to our peaceful nation. It is now time for our government to wake up and stop fearing criticism. They should move these people either to refugee camps in the north or out of this country in order to get back security and peace in our country. We can no longer accept this violence in our country. They are destroying things that have taken years to build.
One thing we might do to protect airliners is to control the manufacture and distribution of weapons globally. It's absolutely ridiculous that shoulder-fired rockets are so widely available. They should be controlled at the point of manufacture.
Diana, Ohio, USA
I have family in Nairobi and Mombassa and am waiting again for news. Phone lines are down and communication is hard - it is going to be a long day! I don't want to discuss politics in this e-mail, I just want to highlight how attacks like these reverberate worldwide. Our thoughts should be with those who died and their families and finding a solution to this global unrest.
We are a Canadian family with two teenage children and are travelling to Kenya for Christmas and New Year. We have been looking forward to this trip and plan to stay in Malindi on the coast, not far from Mombasa and in Nairobi. This terrorist attack in Mombasa makes us very angry but we can't be afraid. We will still travel and the terrorists will not win.
Rami, USA/ Palestine
My heart goes out especially to the families of the Kenyans, who like the Balinese recently, are totally undeserving of such acts. These people were warm hosts, offering hospitality to others in their home country. I would like to hear, finally, from the Arab League, a condemnation of suicide attacks, for the sake of the innocent, among them the Kenyans, the Balinese, and the children of the Middle East. A few words of compassion can make all the difference in the world.
Every time I feel fear at the thought of travelling I think of the thousands who perished in the Twin Towers, who did nothing more dangerous than turning up to a "safe" job in the morning. If terrorists finish me off, let them find me enjoying myself rather than hiding under the blanket.
Kevin Maw, UK
This disturbing incident yet again shows the uselessness of our spies and armed forces in fighting al-Qaeda, and the futility of starting another war in Iraq.
The Mombassa attacks clearly illustrate that Kenya's effort to woo foreign investment, and improve lives of its own people, is instead being taken advantage of by ill-minded terrorists. Let Kenya and the rest of the world rise to this challenge of terror now!
This attack shows that the fight against terrorism should be a concerted effort by all governments and that they should share all information with each other. I appeal to Kenyans especially those in Mombassa not to start fighting the Muslims there because this may yet be the beginning of a vicious cycle of violence and hate crimes just prior to our very important elections!
I have just returned (two days) from a wonderful holiday in Mombassa Kenya. Seeing this atrocity on the news is heartbreaking and my thoughts go to those who are injured and those who will continue to suffer.
I was a school teacher in Kenya for 15 years. I never stayed at the Paradise Hotel but did holiday in the area quite a few times. The Kenyans who live and work here are easy-going, peace loving people. The entire economy of the region is solely dependent on foreign tourism. The devastation of this event shall go far beyond the initial horror of the bomb attack and take many years to overcome.
Nevan O' Driscoll, Singapore
My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this terrible time. I have just returned from a holiday in Mombasa and found the people absolutely wonderful, so friendly and couldn't do enough for us. We were well looked after and made to feel part of the community within. What is our world coming to?
I am a Muslim and like all peace-loving Muslims I completely and utterly condemn this terrorist outrage against innocent civilians. All I can do is pray for peace, equality and justice for all people in the world. In particular the sooner there is a peaceful, just, negotiated settlement of the Israel/Palestine issue the better- for everyone.
Having been in Mombasa only three weeks ago, it is a total shock that this has occurred. Kenya like a lot of other countries (e.g. Bali) relies on tourists to keep the economy alive.
There were lots of people who were diverted from Bali to Kenya as an alternative destination, when I was there.
I really don't think that Kenya deserves this.
I am horrified that Kenya has again been a target for terrorism. I have recently returned from that area, very near to the Paradise and my heart goes out to the Kenyan people, who are so lovely and generous in spirit, they simply do not deserve this.
They have tried so hard to build up tourism in their country, which is surrounded by such poverty in other African countries.
Please let us pray that the Arabs and Israelis can reach a settlement without taking innocent lives, and that Bush and Blair can put their brilliant minds into seeking peace rather than threatening another war that the world doesn't want.
I am a Kenyan living in Mombasa and I can't understand why these terrorist are targeting us. Please tell them to leave us alone.
It's now clear, after the killings in Nigeria last week as a result of Miss World that Israel is not the true cause of Islamic terrorism. It may be part of the battle, but the war itself is against the values and lifestyle of the West as a whole. The acknowledgement of this fact is crucial to starting to solve the problem.
I'm just back from the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa. It was a lovely hotel with lots of friendly staff. Why target innocent people?
I live in Mombasa and am appalled that this has happened in our beautiful country. No religion condones the pointless deaths of so many innocent people... I hope justice is done and these tyrants see there comeuppance.
We really need to step up the search for Osama Bin Laden. It is about time we finished this once and for all. We should have got Saddam when we had the chance too. If we are going to declare war on terrorism why are these atrocities still happening?
I condemn this attack whole-heartedly. It is now imperative that the diplomats get the Palestinian and Israeli talking peace going or else world peace is in jeopardy.
Basic reason with all efforts at rooting out terrorism is barking up the wrong tree. The fountain head and breeding ground of terrorism is the north west frontier province of Pakistan. No one seems to be interested in this. Instead Pakistan is given clean chit as "staunchest ally" by USA.
An absolute tragedy. My wife and I returned from Mombasa seven days ago, after celebrating our silver wedding. Mombasa was a short notice holiday, we were originally booked to go to Bali. We are very lucky I think.
Roy Miles, England
If these terrorists have scores to settle with the targeted countries, let them fight the battles in their own countries. Kenyans are currently preparing for very crucial elections and such attacks could have serious repercussions. The tourist industry, which of late has been showing signs of recovery, will be adversely affected. The war against terrorism must continue and the terrorists must be stopped right on their tracks.
It is absolutely disgraceful targeting innocent Kenyans in conflicts they play no part in. This will have dire consequences on a country that is already struggling to attract tourists.
Raj is right, but terrorism against innocent Israelis is just as heinous as it is against innocent Kenyans. It would be absolutely tragic if Kenya is frightened into curtailing ties with Israel - we need as much contact and understanding among the world's peoples as possible.
It's an act of shame that must be condemned to the highest order by the international community at large. It's a disappointment that such an incidence should happen again after not more than five years have passed since the attacks in '98 in Nairobi.
28 Nov 02 | Africa
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