Iranians charged in Kenya bomb plot reminiscent of deadly anti-Israeli attacks

Men were allegedly carrying 15kg of explosives in Mombasa, where terrorists have targeted Israelis before

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Two Iranians appeared in a Kenyan court on Monday to face charges related to accusations they planned to carry out an attack using explosives.

The two men — Ahmed Abolfathi Mohammed and Sayed Mansour Mousavi — were arrested last week in the coastal city of Mombasa with 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosives, according to the government charge sheet. Prosecutors contend the two intended to carry out an attack that would cause “grievous harm.”

The two pleaded not guilty to the charges and were remanded into custody.

Kenya has seen a spate of attacks in recent months following the country’s decision last October to send troops into neighboring Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants. However, al-Shabab and its partner organization al-Qaida have not traditionally used Iranian operatives in its operations.

Iranian agents are suspected in attacks or thwarted attacks around the globe over the last year, including in Azerbaijan, Thailand and India. Most of the plots had connections to Israeli targets.

Several resorts on Kenya’s coast are Israeli-owned. Militants in 2002 bombed an Israeli-owned luxury hotel near Mombasa, killing 13 people. The militants also tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner at the same time. An al-Qaida operative was linked to that attack.

In another terror-related development, the death toll from a grenade and gunfire attack just outside Mombasa on Sunday rose to three on Monday, officials said. Some 25 people were wounded.

Police official Aggrey Adoli said Monday that anti-terror police took one suspect into custody for the attacks, which he said involved three explosions and heavy gunfire.

Police official Elijah Rop said one of the people being treated in the hospital is suspected of having taken part in the attack.

Sunday’s attack came only two days after the US Embassy in Kenya issued a terror warning for Mombasa. Kenyan officials on Sunday protested the warning, saying it was harming the coast’s tourism industry. The gunfire and grenade attack happened only hours after the officials complained about the US warning.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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