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Resort Hotel in Kenya Bombed; Missiles Fired at Israeli Airliner

Deaths and injuries are reported at the Paradise Mombasa, frequented by Israelis. No one aboard the plane is hurt.

November 28, 2002|Alissa J. Rubin | Times Staff Writer

JERUSALEM — A bomb exploded early today in the lobby of a Kenyan resort hotel frequented by Israelis, injuring an unknown number of people at almost the same time that two missiles were fired at a plane used by the Israeli charter company Arkia.

An owner of the hotel who was there, Aaron Hamill, said in an Israeli television interview: "The place is torched, burned to the ground. I can see seven bodies." He could not determine their nationality.

Israeli television reports said there were roughly 60 casualties, including injured.

Early reports by Israeli radio said the hotel, the Paradise Mombasa, which is operated at least in part by an Israeli company, was on fire. The resort is widely advertised in Israel.

The missiles missed the plane and no one was injured, said spokesmen for the Israeli Foreign Ministry and for Arkia, which operated the aircraft.

"Two missiles were fired at the Arkia plane as it took off; both missed," said Jonathan Peled, the Foreign Ministry spokesman. The plane had just dropped off a group of passengers who had gone to the hotel, according to Itzak Mamman, one of the operators of the company in Tel Aviv, who was interviewed on Israeli radio.

Soon after, there was an explosion at the hotel. "We think it was a car bomb. We know there are injuries, we don't know how many or the nationalities," Peled said.

The pilot reported seeing two flashes of light shortly after the plane took off from Mombasa about 7 a.m.

More than 270 passengers and 10 crew members were aboard the plane.

The attacks came just a day after Yasser Arafat's top deputy said taking up arms against Israel has been a mistake for the Palestinians and must be stopped because the use of weapons has held up Palestinian independence and led to a reoccupation of West Bank cities by Israeli troops.

The comments by Mahmoud Abbas, a possible successor to Arafat, the Palestinian Authority president, were made at a private meeting of party leaders last month and constitute the harshest criticism a senior Palestinian figure has leveled at militants since violence erupted in September 2000.

"Many people diverted the uprising from its natural path and embarked on a path we can't handle, with the use of weapons ... such as mortars, grenades and shooting from houses and populated areas," Abbas said at the Oct. 24 meeting with activists of Arafat's Fatah movement.

"If we do a calculation of the gains and losses ... we will see without any doubt that what we lost was big and what we gained was small," he said.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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