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At Least 13 Killed in Attack on Israeli-Owned Hotel in Kenya - 2002-11-28


At least 13 people have been killed, and scores more wounded in a car-bombing targeting Israeli tourists in Kenya. At the same time, two missiles were fired at, but missed, an Israeli airliner leaving Kenya.

Witnesses say a massive car bomb demolished an Israeli-owned hotel Thursday near the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.

Survivors say the blast occurred as a group of Israeli tourists was arriving at the Paradise Hotel. Several of the dead were Kenyan dancers, who were preparing to greet the guests. Police say three suicide bombers died in the explosion.

In a separate incident, two missiles were fired at an Israeli airliner taking off from Mombasa airport, just about the same time as the explosion. The plane, with 270 people aboard, was not hit, and flew on to Tel Aviv under escort of Israeli jet fighters.

The Kenyan ambassador to Israel, John Sawe, blames the attacks on the al-Qaida terrorist network.

"We don't have any problem with our neighboring countries, our neighbors, no problem whatsoever," the ambassador said. "I have no doubt whatsoever that these [attacks] must be connected with al-Qaida."

But in London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said no evidence has emerged connecting the attacks to al-Qaida, the organization that perpetrated last year's terrorist attacks against the United States.

"I personally have seen no evidence, which immediately links the al-Qaida organization to this outrage," Mr. Straw said. " But, obviously, we are assessing all the indications that there are, and if there is a firm indication, we will make a public announcement about that."

In the meantime, Mr. Straw says, the foreign office will consider strengthening its travel warning for British citizens who might be planning a trip to Kenya.

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