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Growing Evidence of Terror Threat in Kenya

May 17, 2003|From Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — Intercepted communications among Al Qaeda operatives in eastern Africa, along with other unspecified intelligence, indicate terrorists are plotting an attack in Nairobi, possibly on embassies or residences of foreign officials, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

The British government warned its citizens Friday to be on guard against "a clear terrorist threat" in six eastern African countries -- Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. However, it did not advise British nationals to avoid all nonessential travel there, as it did concerning Kenya.

Britain on Thursday suspended flights between Nairobi and London because of a threat to British jets. The United States also said travelers should postpone trips there.

The United States, Britain and other European countries have warned in recent days of a possible terrorist attack in Kenya. But none had previously specified the nature of the intelligence leading to the warnings, or that embassies or residences could be targeted.

British High Commissioner Edward Clay confirmed there has been a "wave" of intelligence recently pointing to an attack.

Britain has linked the threat to Monday's suicide bombings in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, thought to be the work of Al Qaeda.

It said the warning Thursday was also linked to reports that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an alleged Al Qaeda operative, was seen in the port city of Mombasa. He is suspected in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the Nov. 28 attack on a Kenyan resort hotel.

Along with increased security around foreign embassies, the Kenyan government is beefing up protection around airports, monitoring flight paths and stepping up patrols, especially in Nairobi National Park, adjacent to the airport, said National Security Minister Christopher Murangaru.

The U.S. Embassy and British High Commission in Nairobi were open Friday.

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