NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenya said Wednesday a veteran Palestinian guerrilla was responsible for the New Year's Eve bombing of a Jewish-owned Nairobi hotel which killed 15 people and wounded scores of others.
A government statement identified the bomber as Qaddura Mohammad Abdel Hamid, 34, a Morrocan with a passport from Malta. The statement said Abdel Hamid was sent by the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on a 'mission' to Europe in 1973, but did not give any details.
The statement said Abdel Hamid arrived in Kenya Dec. 23 aboard an Alitalia flight, checked into the Norfolk Hotel, and fled Nairobi on a Kenya Airways flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia seven hours before the bomb went off.
In Beirut, Lebanon, a PFLP spokesman denied his group had anything to do with the hotel bombing.
The government statement did not comment on widespread speculation that the bombing was in retaliation for Kenya's decision to send to Israel five people arrested on suspicion of plotting to shoot down an Israeli airliner over Nairobi in 1976.
But the statement did say the Kenyan government 'reiterates that it will never condone or support any acts of terrorism as a means of solving any type of conflict, international or otherwise.'
Fifteen people were killed and scores were wounded when the bomb went off over the Norfolk Hotel's dining room on Dec. 31. The hotel is owned by a prominent African Jewish family, the Blocks.
The statement made no mention of an accomplice, although employees of the hotel said an Arab presumed to be Abdel Hamid was visited in his room on a number of occasions by a woman with a pronounced German accent.
The Marxist PFLP was responsible for a wave of jet hijackings and other actions in the early 1970s. In 1973, the year in which Abdel Hamid was said by Kenya to have been on a 'mission,' the PFLP was linked to a machine gun attack on passengers at the Rome airport.