At least 11 people, including three Israelis died when a car-bomb ripped through an Israeli-owned hotel near the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, as an Israeli plane leaving the local airport narrowly avoided a missile attack.
The town of Mombasa is a major sea gateway for eastern Africa and is Kenya's oldest and second largest metropolis.
Two missiles were fired toward an Israeli aircraft that had just taken off from Mombasa airport, said Ron Prosor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. The aircraft belonged to the Israeli Arkia charter company. A company official said none of 140 passengers aboard the plane were hurt.
At about 0500 GMT, a huge explosion went off in the lobby of the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa. Israel TV said a car crashed through a barrier outside the hotel, and that explosives were apparently thrown from the vehicle at the hotel. An unknown group calling itself The Army of Palestine has said it is behind the hotel bombing.
At least 11 people were killed in this attack, three of them Israelis. Speaking to Army Radio, Israel's Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said two Israeli boys were killed in the blast. At least 18 Israelis were injured in the blast. Six Kenyans and the suspected suicide bombers in the car died in this attack, Kimori Mwangi, a local police spokesman said.
"This was a terrorist attack," Mwangi told a local radio station. He said dozens of hotel guests were in the lobby checking in or checking out at the time of the bombing.
Netanyahu said that it was "quite possible" that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, but that Israel was also looking into other possibilities. He added he believed Palestinian groups have been trying to get shoulder-held missiles from Iran and Hizbullah.
Netanyahu called the missile attack "a very dangerous escalation of terror."
"It means that terror organizations and the regimes behind them are able to arm themselves with weapons which can cause mass casualties anywhere and everywhere," Netanyahu said. "Today, they're firing the missiles at Israeli planes, tomorrow they'll fire missiles at American planes, British planes, every country's aircraft. Therefore, there can be no compromise with terror."
The Kenyah ambassador to Israel, John Malan Sawe, told Army Radio that he had no doubt that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network was behind the attacks.
"There is no doubt in my mind that al Qaeda is behind this attack, because we have no domestic problems, no terrorism in our country, and we have no problem with our neighbours, no problem whatsoever," Sawe said. "So I have no doubt whatsoever that these people were connected to al Qaeda," he told Reuters.
According to Haaretz, the estimation in the Israeli security establishment is that Osama bin Laden or another extremist group with connections to his network, was behind the attacks in Kenya. The Israeli security services had no specific warning of any intention to attack the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, the daily added. (Albawaba.com)
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