Three suicide bombers crashed a vehicle packed with explosives into an Israeli-owned resort hotel on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, killing themselves, 10 Kenyans and three Israelis, only five minutes after two antiaircraft missiles were fired -- unsuccessfully -- at an Israeli airliner taking off for Tel Aviv with a load of homeward-bound tourists.
The hotel blast in Mombasa Thursday was the second major terrorist attack on Kenyan soil in four years, following an August 1998 explosion that killed more than 200 people, almost all Kenyans, and devastated the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, the capital, 300 miles northwest of Mombasa.
Along with the apparently coordinated missile attack at Mombasa's nearby airport, the beachside bombing renewed fears that Islamic extremists still have a foothold in East Africa despite the year-old U.S. campaign against terrorism.
Kenyan police questioned a dozen suspects on Friday, seeking to establish who was responsible for the apparently coordinated attacks.
Though a previously unknown Palestinian group -- the Government of Universal Palestine in Exile, the Army of Palestine -- claimed responsibility for the deeds, Kenyan and Israeli officials suggested that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was behind them. Al Qaeda, blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has also been accused of carrying out the nearly simultaneous bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998.
The attacks in Kenya occurred on the same day that Likud Party voters in Israel selected incumbent Ariel Sharon over Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as the party's candidate for prime minister in the January general election. Palestinian gunmen opened fire and threw a grenade at Likud's local headquarters in Beit Shein, killing six people who were casting primary ballots.
-- Emily Wax