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Failed grenade attack on Britons as Kenya marks independence day

Source: Reuters - Thu, 12 Dec 2013 11:07 AM
Author: Reuters
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MOMBASA, Kenya, Dec 12 (Reuters) - A hand grenade was hurled at a vehicle carrying two British tourists in Kenya as the country marked 50 years of independence from Britain on Thursday, but police said the device failed to explode.

Mombasa's police chief Robert Kitur said there was no obvious link between the national celebrations and the incident in the coastal city. Mombasa is dependent on tourism and has been plagued by attacks blamed on Islamist militants and their sympathisers.

"(The) hand grenade was thrown at a land cruiser carrying two British tourists, but it did not blow up," a senior counter-terrorism police officer in Mombasa told Reuters. "It hit the vehicle and landed besides the road. Our officers later detonated it."

Kitur confirmed the details. The British Foreign Office said it was aware of the reports.

The incident threatened to deal another blow to the tourism industry, a mainstay of East Africa's biggest economy. In September, Islamist militants killed dozens of people in an assault on a Nairobi shopping mall.

Tourist arrivals in the first five months of 2013 were down 15 percent on last year as visitors stayed away, worried by attacks blamed on Somalia's al Shabaab rebel group and by the risk of trouble around elections in March, which in the event passed off peacefully.

Kenya is marking half a century of independence from British rule at a time when anti-colonial rhetoric is on the rise as the country's president and his deputy face trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. (Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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