Kenya charges man with terrorist plot, links him to mall attack

MOMBASA, Kenya Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:24pm EDT

Security officers stand guard after a news conference by Kenyan government officials near the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Security officers stand guard after a news conference by Kenyan government officials near the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi September 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Siegfried Modola

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MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - A Kenyan court on Friday charged a man suspected of links to last month's attack on a Nairobi shopping mall with plotting to commit terrorist acts in the port city of Mombasa.

Anti-terrorism police arrested Swaleh Abdallah Said on Thursday and he led them to a house in Mombasa where they found explosives, a grenade, two mobile phones and passports, prosecutors told the magistrate's court.

"We are requesting four days to conclude investigations because we are linking the accused to the recent acts of terrorism at Westgate in Nairobi," prosecutor Simon Waithaka told the court.

Said, a Kenyan national, was in possession of unauthorized explosives, Waithaka added.

The suspect denied all the charges.

Somali Islamic militant group al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack on Westgate shopping mall on September 21, the worst attack in Kenya in 15 years in which at least 67 people died.

Authorities said on September 28 they were holding eight people in connection with the attack but it is not known how many remain in custody and no one has been charged.

Kenya has named four of the attackers, saying they also included a Kenyan Arab and a Somali.

On Thursday Mombasa police also arrested a 19-year-old high school student, Said Nassir Haddir, in connection with the Westgate attack.

"The student holds a valid Tanzanian passport and we have reasonable evidence that he communicated with some of the Westgate terror suspects being held by police in Nairobi," said Mombasa county police commander Robert Kitur.

A United States Navy SEAL team swooped into Somalia last Saturday in an operation targeting a senior al Shabaab figure known as Ikrima, Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar, suspected of plotting serial attacks in Kenya.

The SEAL team pulled out after a gun battle without capturing Ikrima.

(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Gareth Jones)

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