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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 10:22 GMT
Kenyan attack: Are you afraid to travel?
Jane, hotel receptionist, sits in a Mombasa hospital after she received severe burns in the Paradise hotel bombing
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.

Your reaction

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.
Hana J, Australia

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.
Matthew G, France/UK

Security reforms should be at the top of the political agenda

Kavita Brahmbhatt, UK-Kenyan
The bombing of the Paradise Hotel and the attempted strike on the Israeli airline was an appalling act of terror. Although it does not deserve to happen in a country that has nothing to do with the Israel/Palestine conflict, it does bring to light the lack of security not only in Mombasa, but Kenya as a whole. So will we learn from this? It seems that now is the perfect time. One would hope that with the Kenyan elections drawing close, security reforms should be at the top of the political agenda. If not, then Kenya leaves itself vulnerable to similar such attacks, and this cannot happen again
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.
Allan Njoroge, Kenya

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.
Darryl, USA

I now never sleep on an overnight flight

Diana, Ohio, USA
Yes, I am afraid to travel abroad. I am American and my husband is British so we both feel like targets in hunting season. We are limiting our travel to the US, Canada and the UK, taking direct flights whenever we can. We do not travel at peak times either. All you can do is be diligent about controlling what you CAN control. Be observant about the people around you, their actions, their demeanour and body language. I now never sleep on an overnight flight. I make sure I control my environment to the best of my ability and not think of the rest. But to not travel at all is to let the terrorists win. I will not concede to them.
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.
Laura Njambi McCrum, Scotland

Mere condolences will not cut it

Mukami, UK
Just as we are trying to get our political and economy act together, terror is rained on us without provocation. Twice in four years we have been a battleground for a war we have no part in. Yet the players re: America and Israel have no time for Kenya. It is time they put their money where their mouth is, mere condolences will not cut it. Support Kenya, build up her economy and step up her security.
Mukami, UK

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.
Laureen, Canada

It is hard to comprehend what has happened

Rami, USA/ Palestine
I am very saddened by yesterday's attacks in Kenya. I am a Palestinian who lived between the West Bank and Israel for many years and I am a friend of many wonderful Kenyans... It is hard to comprehend what has happened. I think this is a time when we should try to remain optimistic that justice and peace will be achieved. It is time we stop thinking solely in terms of I am right and you are wrong. It is time we say we've both been wrong.
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.
Kate, USA

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.
John B, UK

Those who commit acts of terror aren't all lunatics

Kevin Maw, UK
The divide between good and bad is not as clear as we Westerners arrogantly believe. We need to accept that those who commit acts of terror aren't all lunatics, but people influenced to an extreme level by the beliefs of their culture. Many of us fail to recognise this and therefore expect peace where peace can never exist. The way forward will take centuries of understanding, education and leadership, not a task force conducting technological warfare in a 'winter window'. Al-Qaeda is not the enemy, it is a symbol of just one 'enemy'.
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.
Gordon Chapman, UK

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!
Symon Ogeto, Chicago-based Kenyan.

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!
Wanjiku, Kenya

Once again Kenya is pulled into wars it has nothing to do with

Dave, UK
I am a Kenyan, currently visiting the UK, and I am horrified by this tragic event at home! Once again Kenya is pulled into wars it has nothing to do with and it is us, the people and our fragile economy, which will ultimately suffer. I am losing faith in the West and their efforts to curb terrorism and I disrespect the terrorists, with no recognition for their causes, as long as they involve our country in their problems! Kenya has enough of its own problems without this - just leave us alone!
Dave, UK

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.
Malcolm Collard, UK

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.
Ewan McDonald, UK

We are thinking of you on this sad day

Nevan O' Driscoll, Singapore
Myself and my wife lived for what was a wonderful two years in Mombasa between 1998 and 2000. We were very saddened to see the news on the website this evening. Just like 1998, Kenya has again proven to be a soft target. Moi said that he would work closely with the US in 1998 after Nairobi, but not a lot has happened since then. Kenya has once again relaxed its security and has paid the unfortunate price. I just hope that all of our old friends in Mombasa are OK, especially Lesley. Take care everyone, we are thinking of you on this sad day.
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?
Diane, UK

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.
Az, UK

It was a wide open target

Chris, England
Having just got back from Mombasa last week, this comes as no surprise. There were so many Israeli tourists there, including a huge number of Israeli soldiers on leave. It was a wide open target. It's such a terrible shame for the people of Kenya who have tried so hard to get their tourist industry going again after the last bombing in Nairobi.
Chris, England

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.
Max, UK

We are far from the Middle East, why us?

Rimita, Kenya
I work in Mombasa and we are all gripped by fear. We are far from the Middle East, why us? The root cause of this insanity must be sorted out by the Americans, the Jews and the Arabs. Live in peace, you only live once. I pray for our Kenya and for all those who lost their lives.
Rimita, Kenya

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.
Jean Brooman, England

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.
Wandeto, Kenya

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.
Gary, UK

I'm just back from the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa. It was a lovely hotel with lots of friendly staff. Why target innocent people?
Jig, China

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.
Deepa, Kenya

A new and disturbing insight into terrorist strategy

Richard, Scotland
The attempted shooting down of the Israeli charter plane, presumably by portable rocket launcher, provides a new and disturbing insight into terrorist strategy. Unable to penetrate the most stringent airline security in the world they can now attempt to bring down airliners without much risk of detection and easy means of escape. Even in failure the terrorists win - they have shown that they can bypass conventional airport security and attack airliners with impunity.
Richard, Scotland

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?
Iain, UK

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.
Faisal Sheikh, England

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.
Dr Pratap V.V.Reddy, Hyderabad, India

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.
Leighton, UK

This is the last thing Kenya needs right now

Roy Miles, England
My wife and I have just returned from Mombasa leaving many new friends we made whilst there. This is the last thing Kenya needs right now, with the elections in full swing. This could be the opportunity the terrorists need to undermine an already fragile government. Pray that there are no reprisals against the local Muslim population in Mombasa.
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.
T.J. Kisukwa, Kenya

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, England

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.
Vin, UK

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.
Michaeel, Kenya

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28 Nov 02 | Africa
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