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Red alert over Kenya terror attack threat

Published May 15, 2003

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The United States on Wednesday warned of a "high potential" for terrorist attacks targeting US citizens and interests throughout east Africa, particularly Kenya, after this week's triple suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia.

The state department recommended that Americans defer all non-essential travel to Kenya specifically and carefully review plans to visit east Africa in general.

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"The department of state believes there is a credible threat of terrorist attacks in east Africa," it said in a statement.

"Supporters of al-Qaeda and other extremists are active in east Africa," said the department.

The warning for Kenya was more severe.

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"The US government has received indications of terrorist threats in the region aimed at American and western interests, including civil aviation," said the department.

"The government of Kenya might not be able to prevent such attacks," it said.

The twin warnings were released just two days after the triple suicide bombings that killed eight Americans and 26 others in Riyadh.

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The warnings noted a deadly November 2002 car bomb attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner there on the same day.

The threat of similar attacks remain throughout the region, it said.

"The threat to aircraft by terrorists using shoulder-fired missiles continues in Kenya, including Nairobi," said the department.

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Seaports may also be targeted.

Other east African countries face similar threats.

The warnings said "soft targets" such as civilian housing, US commercial interests such as fast-food franchises, hotels, churches and beaches might be hit by terrorists.

Earlier on Wednesday, the State Department said Bali-style attacks continued to pose a threat throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in the Malaysian state of Sabah. - Sapa-AFP

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