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Arrested men in Kenya suspected of Qaeda links - US
( 2003-08-05 09:17) (Agencies)

The United States said on Monday two men arrested by Kenyan police in an anti-terror raid in the coastal city of Mombasa last week were suspected of links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

One of the men killed himself and a policeman with a grenade last Friday as he was being driven to a police station for questioning in connection with last November's suicide bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa.

"The Kenya police were swift and fearless in apprehending individuals with evident ties to the al Qaeda terror network," Peter Claussen, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, said in a statement.

Al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for the hotel attack in which at least 16 people, including the three bombers, were killed. The attack occurred within minutes of a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner leaving Mombasa's airport.

The United States has linked al Qaeda to a 1998 bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in which more than 200 people were killed.

Kenyan police have carried out many arrests in Mombasa and Nairobi to tighten security in the wake of last November's attacks.

On a tour of Africa last month, President Bush vowed he would not allow al Qaeda and other groups to use the continent as a springboard from which to launch attacks.

Bush, whose administration fears Africa's porous borders and widespread tracts of lawlessness could make it an attractive hideout for al Qaeda, picked Kenya as one of five governments in the East African region for a $100 million security scheme.

Last November's attacks scared tourists away from Kenya for months, hitting a key money-spinning sector of the economy. The industry employs some 500,000 people and relies on golden Indian Ocean beaches centered on Mombasa, as well as game parks.

Five men have been charged in connection with the Paradise Hotel attack.

On May 15, Britain stopped its airlines flying to and from Kenya citing terrorist threats. The ban was lifted in late June.

Earlier this year both the United States and Britain warned their citizens against non-essential travel to Kenya, citing imminent security threats. Britain later revoked its warning but a U.S. notice advising caution remains in place.

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