U.S. Warns of New Terror Threats in Kenya

The U.S. Embassy (searchwarned American citizens Tuesday of a potential terrorist attack on two hotels in downtown Nairobi (search) and two bank buildings were evacuated due to a bomb threat.

"The U.S. government recently received an anonymous warning detailing terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests in downtown Nairobi... the timing of the threat is within the next several days," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

Although the "information has not been corroborated," it was released in the interest of public safety," the statement said.

United Nations security officials also warned employees from visiting the downtown area on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Barclay's Bank building was evacuated at midday Wednesday after the KLM airline office received a phone call saying there was a bomb in the building, Patrick Kinyua, head of security for the building, said. Until this year, the building housed the U.S. Embassy public affairs office.

A second Barclay's branch office in downtown Nairobi was later evacuated when the manager received a similar threat.

The Kenyan police deployed their paramilitary unit to both hotels and the bank buildings.

Information Minister Raphael Tuju confirmed to The Associated Press that the government had information about a threat to two downtown hotels in Nairobi, saying "we're evaluating it and taking the necessary action."

He refused to give any details because "it's not appropriate."

"We've had similar kind of warnings in the past but I don't want to go into the details," Tuju said.

Al Qaeda (searchhas twice struck the East African country and there are indications a third attack is being planned -- Kenyan police reportedly uncovered a plot to destroy the new U.S. Embassy this past June.

The old embassy was destroyed in 1998 by a car bomb, an attack that killed 219 people, including 12 Americans.

In November 2002, a car bomb blew up outside the Paradise Hotel north of the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, killing 15 people, including three Israeli tourists.

At about the same time, two shoulder-fired missiles narrowly missed an Israeli airliner as it was taking off from Mombasa's airport.

Five Kenyans have been charged with murder in the hotel attack. Another three Kenyans have been charged with conspiracy to commit a felony for their alleged roles in the November 2002 attacks, the 1998 car bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and the plot to destroy the new U.S. Embassy.