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Kenya Holding 2 Americans Suspected Of Fighting With Somalia's Islamists, Official Says
MOGADISHU , Somalia, February 2, 2007 – Two Americans were among at least 10 foreigners caught by Kenyan police at the Somali border after allegedly fighting with Somalia's ousted Islamic movement, an official said Friday.
One of the Americans is wanted in the U.S. for links to radical movements, the Kenyan police official said. Kenya was preparing to deport the foreigners, seized after escaping advancing Ethiopian troops who helped oust the Islamists, to their home countries.
In the Somali capital, an explosion at an Islamic school for women and girls Friday capped one of the worst weeks of violence since the Islamic group was routed and the government took on the challenge of restoring order.
One student was killed and six were wounded in the attack on Umu-A'isha religious school in southern Mogadishu, witnesses said. The attackers were unknown.
Overnight, at least eight people were killed and 20 were injured in mortar attacks on Mogadishu's seaport, a hotel and an Ethiopian military base.
Violence has been escalating in the city riven by clan rivalries and believed to still be harboring remnants of the Islamic movement, whose members have vowed to wage an Iraq-style insurgency.
Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jelle blamed the attacks on hardline remnants of the Islamic group, known as the Council of Islamic Courts. He said his interim government was in control.
“We have suspects and we know the areas where they plan their attacks,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. “We will punish them.”
An Islamic movement official, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, denied his group was behind the attacks, calling them a popular uprising.
Eric Laroche, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the attacks have been relatively isolated and infrequent but the international community must act urgently to prevent further deterioration. He said his agency would soon help the government develop a police force.
Among the foreigners in Kenyan custody were four Britons, a Frenchman, a Tunisian woman, Syrians and other Arabs, said the Kenyan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information. The date of their deportation was not yet known.
Kenyan authorities have told the British Embassy that four British nationals are being held, an embassy spokeswoman said. The men were detained on Jan. 20, she said.
“We continue to press urgently for consular access so that we can confirm their nationality and offer every assistance,” the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with embassy policy.
One of the Americans was arrested with his 9-year-old child, the Kenyan police official said. The U.S. Embassy had no comment.
Kenya has deported at least 34 people to Somalia, including people who hold Canadian, Eritrean and Kenyan passports. Kenyan authorities are holding up to 70 people believed to have fled Somalia.
Harun Ndubi, a lawyer who represents some of the people in Kenyan custody, said the deportations violated human rights conventions.
Senior Kenyan foreign ministry official Thuita Mwangi said that he had no details about anyone being held in Kenya after fleeing Somalia.