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Some Kenyans Urge US Restraint in Afghanistan - 2001-10-08


Individuals linked to suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden killed more than 200 people in Kenya and another 11 in Tanzania in bomb attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. Yet many Kenyans believe it is safer to practice restraint than revenge.

Kenya's Daily Nation Monday declared the U.S. and British attacks against military installations of the Taleban and al-Qaida, the Osama bin Laden terrorist organization, to be "a war we may live to regret."

"Perhaps the world will end in a conflagration of war and religious hatred in the Middle East," the newspaper predicted.

Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi is one of the strongest supporters of the United States in Africa. Recently, he led a public march in Nairobi to show his backing for the U.S. battle against terrorism.

But on the streets of Nairobi, most people are less enthusiastic about the actions that began Sunday.

Benson Njau fears a larger war into which Kenya could be drawn. "I'm thinking we are going to have a war because the Taleban hasn't accepted the attacks," he said. "And they're saying that they are going to invent a holy war for them. So basically we are scared because Kenya is offering a base for them, for the United States to use our base for their attacks. So definitely we are scared."

Also in Nairobi, Lawrence Njuguna said he would prefer to see negotiation. "I say it's bad to bomb Afghanistan because it will bring a lot of chaos especially to Kenyans. It's going to bring a lot of problems. You know, these guys are terrorists. They come and bomb us," Mr. Njuguna said. "A little bit of some negotiation, it can be good, instead of revenging. You know revenging doesn't pay. A lot of human loss will happen especially if they are going for ground war, they are going to lose."

Abdi Sheikh Mohamed, a Kenyan Muslim, says the United States should not kill Afghan civilians, who are already facing drought and famine. "Let it not kill the innocent people of Afghanistan, the hungry people of Afghanistan," he said.

Kenya's Daily Nation says the United States should "go the whole nine yards" to see that Afghanistan has a chance to form stable democratic government, one which does not harbor terrorists.

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