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November 29, 2002

Bomb suspects 'had US passports'

A number of alleged terrorists in the hotel bombing now in custody and it is becoming clear that though Israelis may have been a target the terrorism is everyone's nightmare and no longer confined to the Middle East

Two of 12 suspects being held in connection with the terrorist attack which killed 15 at a Kenyan hotel were using US passports, it was claimed today.

The manager of a hotel where the man and woman were staying when the suicide bombers devastated the Mombasa Paradise today revealed the pair were from Florida. Ben Wafula, general manager of Le Soleil Beach Club, said: "They had American passports and they said they were from Florida."

It came as the bodies of the Israeli victims were flown home today. The dead were identified as brothers Noy and Dvir Anter, aged 12 and 14, from the West Bank settlement of Ariel, and Albert Dehaville, a 60-year-old tour guide from Raanana.

Mr Wafula said the suspects were a mixed-race man and a white woman, both in their early twenties. They arrived on Monday and were trying to check out yesterday morning, two hours after the bombing of the Paradise Hotel, about three miles away. Staff alerted police
US embassy spokesman Peter Claussen, when asked about the US passport holders, said it had "indications from its own information that this may be correct".

The latest development increases suspicion that the attack on the Paradise Hotel and the simultaneous firing of two missiles at an Israeli jet leaving Mombasa airport was the work of al Qaeda.

The flight school used by a number of the 11 September hijackers was in Florida. But if the pair are linked to the attack it will also embarrass the US authorities that they were able to travel freely. Police commissioner Philemon Abong'o said: "I feel they could give us useful information."

US and Israeli agents have joined the search for the terror gang and are searching the wreckage of the hotel for clues
[more]. [note: for an addition report, see CNN