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12/2/02 - TERRORISM IN KENYA AND ISRAEL - 2002-12-03

President George W. Bush has condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya and Israel “in the strongest terms.” At least thirteen people, along with three suicide bombers, died in a November 28th attack near Mombasa [mom-BAH-sah], Kenya. On the same day, two Palestinian gunmen killed at least six people as they lined up to vote in the northern Israeli town of Beit Shean [bet shay-ahn].

These attacks, said President Bush, “underscore the continuing willingness of those opposed to peace to commit horrible acts. Those who seek peace must do everything in their power to dismantle the infrastructure of terror that makes such actions possible.”

The Kenya attack took place at the Paradise Hotel, an Israeli-owned beach resort in Kikambala [kick-yahm-BAH-lah], near the coastal city of Mombasa. Three terrorists forced their way into the hotel and set off bombs, murdering at least ten Kenyans and three Israelis. Some eighty people were wounded. At about the same time as the hotel bombing, two missiles were fired at an Israeli airliner taking off from Mombasa International Airport. Fortunately, the missiles missed the plane.

Kenya was the scene of one of the worst acts of international terrorism prior to Al-Qaida’s September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States. On August 7th, 1998, al-Qaida terrorists simultaneously attacked U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The majority of the casualties were in Kenya -- more than two-hundred killed and five-thousand wounded. Kenyan authorities are looking into the possibility of al-Qaida involvement in the November 28th attacks. But they say it is too early to draw any conclusions.

The terrorist attack in Israel took place as voters lined up at a polling station in Beit Shean to cast ballots in a leadership election for the Likud Party. Two Palestinian gunmen fired into the crowd and set off grenades. Before police were able to shoot the two gunmen dead, six Israelis had been killed and more than forty wounded. The terrorist al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

As President Bush made clear, “The United States remains firmly committed, with its partners around the world, to the fight against terror and those who commit these heinous acts.”