By DIANA ELIAS
KUWAIT — Authorities have recovered explosives that three Kuwaitis and a North African had planned to use in attacks on a U.S. Army camp and on the homes and cars of Western military personnel, an Interior Ministry official said Saturday.
According to the official, Camp Doha, 14 miles north of Kuwait City, was a prime target. U.S. forces have had prepositioned weapons in the camp since the end of the 1991 Gulf War that liberated Kuwait from a seven-month Iraqi occupation.
The group intended to use its cache of 293 pounds of high explosives to bomb buildings where Western officers lived and to attack their cars on the road, the official said.
The comments confirmed a report published Friday by Al-Watan newspaper specifying the suspects’ planned targets. The Kuwaitis were in custody; the North African remained at large.
The cache, unearthed from the desert, included 1,450 detonators and five grenades.
When the Interior Ministry announced the arrests Thursday, it said only that the men were planning attacks inside and outside Kuwait.
About 5,000 U.S. servicemen and women are in Kuwait, maintaining the prepositioned weapons, conducting exercises and, along with several hundred British airmen, patrolling the no-fly zones imposed on Iraq after the war.
The military presence is part of 10-year defense agreements Kuwait signed with its Western allies after the war. The small oil-rich state has its own 20,000-man army.
U.S. forces in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf were placed on the highest level of alert last month for fear that more attacks would follow the Oct. 12 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. The attack killed 17 sailors and injured 39.
Security has been strengthened in areas where Westerners live, with soldiers carrying machine guns guarding apartment complexes in some city suburbs.
The Interior Ministry would not comment on press reports that linked the suspects to Islamic militant Osama bin Laden. Washington blames bin Laden, believed to be operating from Afghanistan, for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He also is a prime suspect in the bombing of USS Cole.
Yemeni sources have said there was no connection between the arrests in Kuwait and four fugitives being sought as part of the Cole investigation.
Muslim fundamentalists have become increasingly influential in Kuwait in the past decade. They are represented by about 20 members in the 50-seat house and have a strong following among the conservative Bedouin population.
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