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American Questioned In Kenya Blast

Police said Friday they are holding 12 people, including a woman with a Florida address and an American passport, for questioning in connection with twin attacks on Israeli tourists that killed 16 people Thursday.

Police detained the woman and a man as they were checking out of the Le Soleil Beach Club, 1½ hours after a suicide car bomb attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hote, said Ben Wafula, the manager of the hotel. He refused to give their names.

Le Soleil is 9 miles south of the Paradise Hotel.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Peter Claussen said the embassy had "indications from its own information that this maybe correct," when asked about the American passport holder.

"We are checking it out, but I'm not ready to confirm it," Claussen said.
Kenya's president, Daniel Toroitich arap MOI, is expected shortly to survey the site and assess the situation, reports CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher. This gives credence to what the Israelis have been saying over the last 24 hours - that this is not just an Israeli problem. That this is an international war on terror and every nation across the planet needs to be involved. The president is expected to spend several hours at the site.

Employees at Le Soleil called police after receiving a distress call from the Paradise Hotel shortly after the bomb blast. Police then asked callers at Le Soleil to alert them if anyone tried to check out of the hotel. The man and woman were the only ones who attempted to leave the hotel shortly after the attack, Wafula said.

Police Commissioner Philemon Abong'o said police are questioning another 10 people in connection with the morning blast, which killed 10 Kenyans, three Israelis and three bombers, as well as a simultaneous missile attack on the Israeli-owned charter airline.

He said the 10 were picked up in the Mombasa area Friday but refused to give details about any of those being questioned.

About five minutes before the car bomb exploded at the Paradise Hotel, two missiles streaked past a Boeing 757 Israeli charter aircraft owned by Arkia Airlines as it left the Mombasa airport bound for Tel Aviv, Israel. Police said witnesses told them the missiles were fired from a four-wheel drive 1 mile from the airport, police said.

The plane with 261 passengers and 10 crew members landed safely in Tel Aviv with no casualties.

Some government sources have said al Qaeda may be responsible for both attacks. If that is the case, it would be the first on Israeli targets by the terrorist group which has taken responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

President Bush, informed of the attacks during a Thanksgiving Day intelligence briefing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, denounced the violence and offered U.S. help in the investigation.

The 15-nation European Union also said the attacks underlined the need "for international cooperation against terrorism in all its forms."

Israeli and U.S. security officials are assisting Kenyan authorities with the investigation. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has put the Mossad spy agency in charge of investigating the twin attacks.

The majority of israeli nationals and victims involved in yesterday's blast have now returned home. An Israeli army team on Friday began evacuating tourists injured in the attack. Gilad Millo, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said 235 tourists, including 15 injured in the blast, flew home Friday.

The bodies of the three Israelis killed in Thursday's attack were also on board. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent his official plane to help pick up the Israelis.

As they boarded the plane, many of the Israelis wondered where they would ever feel safe again.

"The situation is a disaster. An Israeli does not know where to go," said Yossi Msika as he walked toward the plane.

The Israeli army sent a team of 150 doctors, psychologists, and soldiers to Kenya's Indian Ocean coast after Thursday's attack on the Paradise Hotel, 15 miles north of the port of Mombasa.

Millo said that 140 of those who flew back to Israel had been staying at the Paradise Hotel, while the remainder were staying at nearby resorts.

"We are going to take anyone who wants to go home," he said. Several rescue flights were leaving.

Among those evacuated were two seriously injured Kenyans who were being taken to Israel for treatment at the request of the Kenyan government, Israeli officials said.

In a statement in Beirut, Lebanon, the previously unknown Army of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were timed "to strike at Israeli interests" on the eve of the anniversary of the 1947 decision by the United Nations to partition Palestine and allow creation of a Jewish state.

However, Israeli government adviser Zalman Shoval said al-Qaida's past activities in East Africa and the nature of the attacks pointed to that group.

Al-Qaida carried out almost simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. The bombings killed 231 people, including 12 Americans, and injured about 5,000.

"We can't rule out the group that struck at us in 1998," Kenyan Vice President Musalia Mudavadi said.

If al-Qaida were responsible for the attack, it would be the first on Israeli targets by the terrorist group.

The hotel attack was a grim reminder of the bombing last month of a disco on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, in which more than 190 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed.

As evening fell on the wreckage of the bombed hotel Thursday, a group of Israelis helped Kenyan Red Cross workers who were laying out body bags for the dead.

"We're not sure who these people are ... There are just parts in that one," said Yakob Maimon, one of the Israelis.

By Friday the site had been cordoned off, Israeli and U.S. security officials were combing the area for clues

The deadly attack on the 160-bed Paradise Hotel occurred as new guests were checking in and others were eating breakfast.

Witnesses said a four-wheel drive vehicle smashed through the main gate to the hotel compound and raced down a hill, stopping in front of the lobby.

Some of the witnesses said that three men who looked like Arabs were in the car. One ran into the lobby and blew himself up, while the others remained in the vehicle as it exploded.

Police said the missiles were fired from a white four-wheel drive vehicle in which witnesses said they saw three or four Arab-looking men. Investigators found two missile casings near the airport.

The Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, a nation of 28 million people, is a predominantly Muslim region, and is a popular international tourist destination.

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