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Source: U.S. had intelligence about possible Kenya attacks

Australians say they issued warning about Mombasa

The Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya, was the target of Thursday's suicide bombing.
The Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya, was the target of Thursday's suicide bombing.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government received intelligence information from the Australian government about the possibility of terrorist actions in Kenya before the attacks that left 16 dead in Mombasa this week, a senior U.S. government official told CNN Saturday.

The information, according to the source, was of a general nature and was not considered specific or credible and therefore did not lead the United States to take any action based on that information.

Australian officials said Friday they had issued a warning November 12 for Australians to avoid Mombasa because of intelligence that "warned of possible terrorist attacks against Western interests in Mombasa."

Chris Kenny, spokesman for Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, told CNN Saturday the government would not comment on the source of its intelligence information. He said there was no specific warning about location, timing or method for any potential attack.

Kenny wouldn't say if the information was shared with Kenya's government.

"We don't comment on who we share our intelligence with but it is a statement of fact that Australia has intelligence-sharing relationships with close allies," he said.

Thirteen innocent people were killed Thursday when three suicide bombers crashed a vehicle packed with explosives through the gates of an Israeli-owned Mombasa hotel.

The bombing took place within minutes of an unsuccessful shoulder-fired missile attack on an Israeli charter jet carrying 271 people.

Kenyan and Israeli investigators on Saturday were sifting through the rubble of the bombed-out hotel, recovering evidence that could help them determine who was responsible for the blast.

Police have released two people questioned about this week's attacks in Kenya and say that none of the other 10 being held is linked to al Qaeda. (Full story)

An American woman and her husband, a Spanish national, were freed from custody after police determined they were not connected with the attacks.

Police are still holding six Pakistanis and four Somalis arrested for illegally entering the country, officials said.

Asked if any of them had any connection to al Qaeda, Internal Security Minister Julius Sunkuli told a news conference: "None so far."

The Pakistanis and Somalis were crew members on a boat that came to Kenya earlier this week from Zanzibar via Somalia. Some of them had documents which were described as invalid and which cast suspicion on them.

The freed couple said they held no grudge against police for detaining them.

"There are no hard feelings. We love Kenya. We love the Kenyan people and we know they were doing their job," Alicia Kalhammer, 31, told Reuters.

Her husband, Jose Tena, 26, said they tried to check out of their Mombasa hotel for a safer place in Kenya shortly after hearing about an explosion at a nearby hotel, only to be detained by police.

"It was on TV, the news everywhere. We thought this (hotel) might be a target," he said. "It was what any normal person would do."

CNN's Kelli Arena contributed to this report.



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