Kenya said yesterday it had so far found no link between 12 people held over Thursday's attacks on Israelis in Mombasa and the al-Qaeda network that some suspect was involved. Two of the detainees were freed. \nUS officials said on Friday the top suspect for the blast at the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in which 15 people including three attackers were killed was the Somali-based group Al-Itihad al-Islamiya, known also as AIAI or the Islamic Union. \nThey said it was a prominent radical Islamist group in the Horn of Africa and had links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, target of US President George W. Bush's war on terror after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington last year. \nThe interim government in lawless Somalia called yesterday for the dismantling of "terror groups" in East Africa, without commenting on the US charge. A leading Somali cleric, however, said such violence was the result of what he called oppression. \nKenyan Internal Security Minister Julius Sunkuli, asked if police had found any connection between al-Qaeda and those being held over the explosion and a failed simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner, told reporters: "None so far." \nPolice later released two detainees, American Alicia Kalhammer and her Spanish husband Jose Tena, after questioning, saying they had no connection with the attacks. The two said they bore no grudge against Kenyan authorities. \n"There are no hard feelings. We love Kenya. We love the Kenyan people and we know they were doing their job," Kalhammer, 31, told Reuters. \nTena, 26, said they attempted to leave their Mombasa hotel for a safer place in Kenya shortly after hearing about the blast, only to be detained by police. The two said they would now continue their holiday elsewhere in Kenya. \nThe other detainees are six Pakistanis and four Somalis who were arrested for entering Kenya illegally and only later came under suspicion by those investigating the attacks, police said. \nFriday's US comments were the first from Washington to point a finger at al Qaeda and the Somali group since suicide bombers rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the beach hotel and missiles nearly hit an Israeli airliner carrying 261 people. \nBut US officials stressed it was too early to be sure about who was responsible. \n"The pattern could fit al Qaeda," said one official. Security analysts said the apparently coordinated attacks just minutes apart bore the hallmarks of bin Laden's network. \nAl-Qaeda is widely accused of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which 224 people died, most of them Africans. \nAn official of Somalia's Transitional National Government said Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah "condemns in the strongest terms what happened in Mombasa."
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.