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Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 13:44 GMT
UK condemns Kenya bomb attack
Hotel Paradise, Mombasa
Sixty guests had just checked in to the hotel
UK Home Secretary Jack Straw has expressed his "utter condemnation" of a suicide bomb attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya which has claimed the lives of at least eight people.

Minutes before the blast, two missiles were fired at an Israeli airliner just after take-off from the city's airport, but missed their target.


There is no justification whatever in any circumstances for this kind of terrorism

Jack Straw
Mr Straw said the government is urgently reviewing its advice to travellers destined for Kenya in the light of Thursday's attack on the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa.

But he said he had seen no evidence it was linked to al-Qaeda terrorists.

Mr Straw promised to make a public announcement if there was an indication that they were responsible.

'No justification'

Tony Blair is writing to Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi and Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to emphasise the government's condolences to the relatives and friends of the bomb victims, Mr Straw went on.

Speaking in Downing Street, the home secretary said: "I'd first like to express my utter condemnation of this terrorist outrage in Mombasa and to express the British government's condolences to the relatives and friends of those killed and injured.

Map
"We understand that at least 11 people have been killed, Israeli and Kenyan."

Mr Straw stressed: "There is no justification whatever in any circumstances for this kind of terrorism.

"And of course we will be working with our colleagues in the law enforcement agencies concerned to do everything we can to offer assistance to them.

"So far as travel advice to Kenya is concerned, it already warns of possible dangers and we will be reviewing that straight away."

'Well equipped' terrorists

Mr Straw said everyone had to be "alive" to terrorism, but he had "personally seen no evidence which immediately links the al-Qaeda organisation to this outrage".

"We are assessing all the indications that there are and if there is a firm indication, we will make a public announcement about that."

Mr Straw added: "We have to be alive to the fact that there are appalling terrorists around the world, well organised and sadly, well equipped, capable of perpetrating this kind of outrage and this is what they have done today."

Speaking after Thursday's Cabinet meeting, Labour party chairman John Reid said: "Our thoughts are with all the families and this is an action that is to be utterly condemned by all civilised people and nations."

Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi
Mr Blair is writing to President Moi expressing the UK government's condolenses
Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith described the bombing as "a tragedy, a real tragedy".

"We are waiting to see the details but utter condemnation for anybody that can just simply kill people for the sake of some peculiar twisted political motive," he said, during a visit to a school in Ipswich, Suffolk.

"We really have to find out who did this. If it is part of that terrorist network we are currently confronting, we must do our utmost to bring them to justice."

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.

Kenyan police said 11 people died including six Kenyans, two Israelis and three suicide bombers

Hotel ablaze

Kenya's ambassador to Israel said there was "no doubt" Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was behind the near simultaneous attacks.

BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner says if the Kenyan authorities confirm that this was the work of al-Qaeda, it would be the first time it had launched a direct attack on Israelis.

Israel's Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the attacks a "grave escalation of terror against Israel".

One witness at the hotel said: "People were cut up in the legs, arms, all over their bodies. Everything was burned up".

Reports said that a red all-terrain vehicle had crashed through a barrier outside the hotel and blew up when it hit the lobby.

Missile attack

The blast occurred just after some 60 new arrivals had checked into the hotel, all of them from Israel, hotel officials said.

The aircraft that was subject to a missile attack belongs to the Arkia charter company, which has a regular weekly service flying tourists between Tel Aviv and Mombasa.

Airline officials said the pilots saw two streaks of light on the left side of the aircraft, and had initially prepared for an emergency landing in Nairobi before deciding to continue to Israel.

No one onboard was hurt.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
"I utterly condemn this latest outrage in Mombasa"
Shlomo Hanael from airline charter company Arkia
"The crew reported some streaks of light by the aircraft"
Witness Ranjit Sondhi
"The car burst through the gate and exploded"

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See also:

07 Aug 98 | Africa
28 Nov 02 | Middle East

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