Farmers find missiles fired at Israeli jet

Saturday, December 7, 2002

MOMBASA, Kenya -- Farmers have found the two missiles that narrowly missed an Israeli airliner stuck in fields about 6 miles north of Mombasa airport, a police investigator said Friday.

Deputy Police Commissioner William Langat said the two missiles -- one exploded and the other live -- were discovered in fields just over a mile apart near the village of Kaloleni.

He said police recovered the exploded missile and would defuse the unexploded one Saturday.

Officials had tentatively identified the missiles -- from serial numbers on the discarded launchers -- as Strela surface-to-air missiles made in the Soviet Union in 1974.

The launchers were found shortly after the attack near the airport from which the jetliner was taking off.

Unidentified assailants fired the missiles at the Boeing 757 Arkia Airlines charter on Nov. 28 as it was taking off from Mombasa airport with Israel tourists returning to Tel Aviv.

Shortly afterward, a vehicle loaded with explosives plowed into the Paradise Hotel 12 miles north of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, killing 10 Kenyans, three Israelis and the bombers.

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network claimed responsibility several days later on an Islamic Web site for the attacks.

They were first claimed by the previously unknown Army of Palestine.

Police are holding more than a dozen people for questioning about the attacks, but Langat has said none are considered suspects.

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