FBI team raids hotel in hunt for Nairobi embassy bombers

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The Independent Online
AMERICAN AND Kenyan detectives hunting the Nairobi embassy bombers have raided a hotel in the city and the manager was reported to have been arrested.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kenya's Criminal Investigations Department confirmed yesterday that they had raided the hotel on Tuesday.

"The FBI and CID confirm that searches were conducted at Hilltop Hotel in Nairobi on Tuesday August 18," the two organisations said in a joint statement.

"The investigation is proceeding in a logical manner, and no further comment will be made at this time."

The statement confirmed a report in the Daily Nation and comments by hotel staff that FBI and CID agents had searched the Hilltop.

The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said two hotel rooms were used to assemble the bomb, which killed 247 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.

The statement made no mention of reports that a hotel employee had been arrested.

A member of the hotel staff said FBI agents had come to the hotel on Tuesday and made the arrest. The Daily Nation also said an employee had been arrested. The newspaper said 15 FBI agents and six CID detectives had sealed off the hotel and spent two-and-a-half hours searching all the rooms.

It published a photograph of an agent carrying a box, which it said was believed to contain "vital evidence".

"Two rooms were inspected for forensic evidence but it appeared that the bombers had swept clean any particles of the material used to make the bomb," the paper quoted a source as saying. One member of staff said employees were locked out during the search. "They brought out several boxes and after we started work they came back to pick up another cardboard box which they left behind," he said.

The co-manager of the hotel, Khalid Saleh, said it was not possible that the bomb could have been constructed in a room, as cleaners entered occupied rooms every day.

"That [making the bomb] is something which is not really possible," he said. "They must have assembled in someplace else. We'd have noticed."

The Daily Nation claimed that Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, deported to Kenya from Pakistan in connection with the bombing on 7 August, had confessed to masterminding the attack.

The paper said Mr Odeh, a Palestinian, had booked into the hotel on 4 August, to join three accomplices who had checked in the day before.

It said that on the day of the attack they completed the bomb in an enclosed pick-up truck, which they then drove across the city to the embassy. Meanwhile, in the United States, The Washington Post claimed yesterday that Mr Odeh had given details to Pakistani officials of a global paramilitary network aimed at US interests abroad and orchestrated by the wealthy Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden.

The New York Times quoted unnamed Pakistani officials in Islamabad as saying two more suspects in the Nairobi bombing had been arrested while trying to cross into neighbouring Afghanistan.