An explosion rocked the lobby of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombassa, Kenya, this morning. Two Israeli children and six others were killed in the blast. Earlier, two missiles were fired at an Arkia airliner flying out of the Kenyan city. No damage was caused to the plane and it is now on its way back to Israel.
Israel Radio reported that two Israeli children and six others were killed in the blast. It is possible that one of the other victims was also an Israeli. Hospital officials said at least six people were injured.
The Israel Defense Forces is preparing to send a medical team to Mombassa to deal with the wounded Israelis, Israel Radio reported.
Unofficial reports indicate that a four-wheel-drive landrover laden with explosives exploded just outside the lobby of the Paradise Hotel at about 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Israel Radio reported that the hotel was totally destroyed.
"We were just getting ready and suddenly there was a massive explosion," an Israeli hotel guest by the name of Rami told Channel Two television news. "All the windows in the hotel shattered and people were injured - Kenyans and Israelis. All the guests are being evacuated to the sea coast."
"There are injured children here," said another guest by the name of Osnat. "We are evacuating them on our own and trying to help. There is no assistance here; this is a Third World country."
"People were cut up in the legs, arm, all over their bodies. Everything was burned up," a woman by the name of Neima told Israel Radio by telephone. "Almost all the guests are Israelis. A few Kenyans were also hurt, but it was mostly Israelis."
In the earlier incident, two Strella shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles were fired at an Arkia 757 Boeing jet shortly after takeoff from the Mombassa airport en route to Israel. The Arkia flight, number 582, was packed with Israeli passengers and was flying at an altitude of 1,000 meters when the pilots noted a flashing white light on the left side of the plane, said Arkia official, Shlomo Hanael.
No damage was reported to the plane and no passengers were injured. The pilot considered making an emergency landing in Nairobi but decided to continue back to Israel.
Ellis Shuman Israelinsider
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