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Israel, other countries warned Kenya of terror attack risk

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel was among the countries that warned Kenya’s government about the high risk of a terrorist attack in the months before last week’s attack on a Nairobi mall.

“Israel had warned of attacks on their business interests, but apart from just being tossed from one office to another, nothing was taken out of the intelligence reports,” an anonymous official told the French news agency AFP in a report released Sunday.

A report in the Kenyan daily The Nation, citing a leaked intelligence report, said the treasury, interior, foreign affairs and defense ministers, as well as the army chief, had been told of the high risk of a terror attack, according to AFP.

AFP cited security sources as saying that “Israeli services are playing a lead role in the ongoing investigation into the attack.”

Israeli defense officials last week confirmed that a security team arrived in  Nairobi within hours of the hostage crisis at the Westgate Mall. The officials said the team advised Kenya authorities on the terrorist standoff at the upscale mall and did not include combat units.

At least 68 people were killed in the four-day siege, in which non-Muslims were singled out for death. Some 175 people were injured in the attack.

One Israeli was injured and three others escaped harm, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Several Americans also were injured.

The five-story shopping center features several Israeli-owned outlets, according to wire services. Among them is the ArtCaffe — the attack by eight gunmen took place near the coffee shop and bakery.

Members of  al Shabab, a Somalia-based terror group linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Shabab said the attack was revenge for Kenya’s military operations in Somalia that began nearly two years ago.

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