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Britain shuts Nairobi embassy

U.S. Embassy
A 1998 bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi killed 214.

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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- The British High Commission in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has closed because of a security threat, the UK Foreign Office says.

Officials said staff at the commission had received a "specific threat" on Wednesday and the mission would be closed until further notice.

The closure came less than a week after a car bomb attack by three suicide bombers on the Paradise hotel in Mombasa killed 10 Kenyans and three Israelis.

The bombing took place within minutes of an unsuccessful missile attack on an Israeli charter jet, which was taking off from Mombasa carrying 261 passengers and 10 crew.

Britons have been warned to be vigilant when travelling to Kenya.

Officials would not comment on the nature of the threat.

"We have received a specific threat to the High Commission and we are investigating," a Foreign Office spokesman said. "The mission will remain closed until further notice."

Despite the closure of the High Commission, the Foreign Office was not warning British citizens against travelling to the country.

Travel advice to Kenya has been updated only to inform travellers of the closure following the security threat.

Michael Ancram, shadow foreign secretary, said: "What on earth is going on? I have already asked the Foreign Secretary why warnings were not given to travellers in relation to Mombasa and Nairobi when Australia was giving such warnings.

"Was it true that previously the Nairobi High Commission had information it did not make public?

"Now we learn that the High Commission is being closed but apparently, once again, despite the lessons of Mombasa, there is no change to travel advice.

"This could seriously dent public confidence in Foreign Office travel advice and the Foreign Secretary should urgently give answers to these questions and make a statement to explain the situation."

Al Qaeda terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing 214 people. (History of terror)

U.S. President George W. Bush has said he believes al Qaeda was involved in last week's attacks. (Full story)

"I believe that al Qaeda was involved in the African bombings in Kenya," Bush said on Wednesday. "I believe al Qaeda hates freedom. I believe al Qaeda will strike anywhere they can in order to disrupt a civil society, and that's why we're on the hunt."

Bush said the United States and its allies were "slowly but surely" dismantling al Qaeda and he promised to "bring them to justice."

Suspicions that al Qaeda was behind both attacks grew after a statement attributed to the terror network claimed responsibility and more links surfaced between the Kenya plane attack and two previous missile incidents.

The purported al Qaeda statement was posted on Monday by Web sites that have carried al Qaeda statements in the past.

Meanwhile, Kenyan police investigating last week's attacks detained three people on Wednesday -- including a car dealer who said he sold the vehicle used in the suicide attack to two men of Arab descent.



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