Al Qaeda blamed for Kenya attacks
Twin attacks target Israelis
At least 11 killed by bombs at Mombasa, Kenya, hotel frequented by Israeli tourists
Israeli airliner taking off from Mombasa escapes missile attack
Kenyan ambassador to Israel: "No doubt" al Qaeda was responsible
Group calling itself Army of Palestine claims responsibility
Two arrested in attacks, Israel Radio reports 

 

Bomb happened as guests were checking in at the hotel
Thursday, November 28, 2002 Posted: 11:09 AM EST (1609 GMT)
MOMBASA, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenya's ambassador to Israel says there is "no doubt" that al Qaeda was behind the car bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya and a missile attack on an Israeli airliner.

Suicide bombers drove a vehicle through gates and into the lobby of the Paradise Hotel in the port of Mombasa on Thursday morning, causing a huge explosion which tore through the building, killing 11 people and injured 80, according to reports.

It coincided with an attack on an Israeli passenger plane taking tourists to Tel Aviv.  It touched down safely after the pilot reported seeing "smoke trails" behind the plane seconds after takeoff. (Full story)

In the wreckage of the hotel, screaming children covered in blood searched desperately for their parents, witnesses said. (Full story)

Broken glass showered into rooms and the rooft caught fire. The attack came moments after a group of Israeli tourists had arrived to check in.

The twin attacks have put the world on heightened alert and increased fears that terrorists are targeting "soft" tourist targets.

Israeli Radio reported that Kenyan police arrested two suspects.

There were conflicting reports on the number killed at the hotel. John Malan Sawe, Kenyan Ambassador to Israel, said at least 11 people died and 80 were wounded. Later, Kenya's internal security minister, Julius Sunkuli, told Reuters there were "initial indications" that 14 people had died.

"I do believe the people who have been responsible for terrorism all over the world must be the same people who have done it," Sawe said.  "I believe it must be connected to al Qaeda and it's up to them to deny."

Israel's Foreign Ministry said three Israelis were killed in the blast, including two children aged about eight. The other victims were Kenyans.

An Israeli Army Radio report identified Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, of Egyptian origin, and Faed Ali Sayam, a Kenyan Muslim, as two of the three suicide bombers at the hotel.  The third attacker was not identified, the report added.

A previously unknown group calling itself "The Army of Palestine" faxed a claim of responsibility to the Reuter News Agency in Beirut.  Another such fax was received by Al-Manar, Hezbollah television, where editors said it did not appear credible.

In a faxed statement, the previously unheard-of group said it wanted to "make the world hear once again the voice of Palestinian refugees, and to cast light on Zionist terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza."

CNN's Brent Sadler said it was not immediately possible to verify the claim. 

he owner of the Paradise Hotel, in Malindi, north of Mombasa, said three men fought with security guards before driving into the hotel.

Officials said at about 8:30 a.m. local time (0530 GMT) a vehicle pulled up to the entrance of the hotel and was refused entry.  The men reversed and drove through the gate and into the reception area, triggering the explosion.

About the same time, he said, a light plane flying overhead dropped at least three bombs in the direction of the hotel and beach nearby.

Meanwhile at least one missile, possibly two, were fired at an Arkia Boeing 757, a weekly charter flight, seconds after it took off from Mombasa with 261 passengers and crew.

Pilot Rafi Marek decided to continue to Tel Aviv, the scheduled destination, after checking that the aircraft was working properly.

Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Today they fired missiles at Israeli planes, tomorrow they'll fire missiles at U.S. planes, British planes, planes from every state."

Kenya has seen previous terrorist attacks against Western interests. On August 7, 1998, a blast at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi killed 219 people and wounded 5,000.  A nearly simultaneous attack on the U.S. Embassy in neighbouring Tanzania killed 12 people and injured more than 80.

The United States sentenced four men to life in prison without parole for their roles in the attacks.  It accused them of having links to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network, who were also blamed for the September 11 attacks last year.

Mombasa is used by U.S. Navy vessels assigned to the Indian Ocean.  Although the ships bring dollars to the city of one million people, many of the mostly Muslim residents resent Americans.

Muslims are a minority in Kenya as a whole, officially accounting for 10 percent of the country's 29 million people. 

Copyright 2002 CNN. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report