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Kenya Prepares to Try Mombasa Bombing Suspects


The Kenyan government says it is prepared to charge four people with murder in connection with last November's bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in the coastal city of Mombasa.

Kenya's director of public prosecutions, Philip Murgor, says the four suspects are believed to have ties to Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an alleged al-Qaida operative suspected of planning the deadly Mombasa bombing, as well as the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998. Three of the suspects have been identified as Aboud Rogo Mohammed, Kubwa Mohamed, Mohamed Kubwa. The fourth one has not been named.

The suspects could be charged with murder as early as Tuesday.

The men were earlier charged with the lesser offense of harboring an illegal alien, thought to be Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. But Kenya's minister of justice and constitutional affairs, Kiraitu Murungi, says new evidence has led Kenyan officials to conclude that all of the men had played a role in the bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel.

The attack, blamed on al-Qaida, killed 11 Kenyans and three Israelis.

"The Kenyan police and related agencies have been investigating the incident with the assistance of certain international agencies and the government is pleased to note that significant progress has been made," said Mr. Murungi.

The announcement comes amid renewed warnings of a possible terrorist attack in Kenya. The U.S. embassy in Nairobi closed Friday and will remain closed until at least Tuesday.

Kenya has reacted angrily to the embassy closure, saying the terror alert is further tarnishing its image and damaging its tourism industry.

The Kenyan government is also upset by U.S. charges that the east African nation has not done enough to combat terrorism. During an interview last week with a private Kenyan television network, American Ambassador to Kenya Johnnie Carson said that Kenya was the only terrorist-affected country in the world where there has not been a single arrest or a conviction.

On Saturday, the Kenyan government banned all flights to and from war-torn Somalia, citing an unspecified terrorist threat. The Muslim country has long been considered a transit point and staging ground for al-Qaida terrorists working in east Africa.

Justice Minister Murungi says he hopes the flight ban and the murder charges being brought against the four Mombasa bombing suspects will dispel any doubts about Kenya's commitment to the war on terror.