Mossad agents arrive in Kenya as Israel evacuates tourists from Mombasa
An Israeli army team on Friday started evacuating tourists injured in the bombing attack on an Israel-owned hotel as Kenyan investigators — aided by U.S. and Israeli counterparts — sought to determine who was behind twin attacks on the Kenyan coast.
Gilad Millo, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said 235 tourists, including 15 injured in the blast that killed 15 people, flew home Friday. The bodies of the three Israelis killed in Thursday's attack were also on board.
The hotel blasts killed nine Kenyans, the three Israelis and the three suicide bombers.
In a statement in Beirut, Lebanon, the previously unknown Army of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were timed "to strike at Israeli interests" on the eve of the anniversary of the 1947 decision by the United Nations to partition Palestine and allow creation of a Jewish state.
However, a Muslim cleric who supports Osama bin Laden said that Islamic militants sympathetic to Al Qaeda network had warned of an attack on Kenya one week ago, on internet chat rooms and in e-mails.
"They said in chat rooms that there would be something good in East Africa, that a heavy price would be paid," Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, leader of the London-based al Muhajiroun group told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon put the Mossad in charge of investigating the dual attacks. Press reports said Mossad secret service agents were flown into Kenya to help the investigations.
Mossad agents will team up first with an advance group of Kenyan and Israel terror experts who were flown to Mombasa a few hours after the blast.
"Our hand will reach them," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said of the attackers following a round of security consultations in Tel Aviv. "If anyone doubted that the citizens of the State of Israel cannot stand up to the killers of children, this doubt will be removed."
According to Kenyan press reports, two people were arrested minutes after the blast. The two, said to be a man and a woman, were seized while hurriedly checking out of a beach hotel near the scene of the bombing.
Sources told the Nation newspaper that the couple raised the suspicion of hotel staff when checking out "in a hurried manner". The staff alerted the police who quickly picked up the couple. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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