Targets linked with Israel have come under attack Thursday near the coastal city of Mombasa in Kenya. A bomb exploded in a hotel where many Israelis were staying. Reports say at least eight people have been killed. Shortly after the hotel blast, two rockets were fired at - and narrowly missed - an Israeli jet after it took off from Mombasa airport.

An explosion rocked the lobby of the Paradise hotel in the city of Malindi, not far from Mombasa. Some of the wounded have been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Reports from the scene say that the blast was caused by a booby-trapped car.

Witnesses have told Israeli media they saw several badly burned and cut victims in the aftermath of the attack.

At the same time, an aircraft belonging to Arkia, an Israeli charter company, narrowly missed being struck by two missiles.

The plane, with more than 200 people onboard, is continuing its flight to Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military has dispatched its own aircraft to the area to evacuate the injured from the hotel blast.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Israel's ambassador to Kenya told Israel Army radio that he believed that the al-Qaida organization was responsible.

The attacks mark the first time in years Israelis have been targeted abroad.

The attacks came ahead of a crucial ballot Thursday for the leadership of the ruling Likud Party. The race is between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999.

The winner of Thursday's contest appears certain to become prime minister in elections scheduled for January, with current opinion polls showing Likud the most popular party in the country.