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Police say trail gone cold in 'White Widow' hunt

14 August 2014, 18:57

Mombasa - Kenyan detectives told a court Thursday they had lost the trail of British terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the "White Widow", suggesting the fugitive may have taken another identity.

Detectives hunting Lewthwaite were ordered to appear in court Thursday in the port city Mombasa after failing to heed previous summons to provide updates on their search.

"We have tried to arrest her, but she keeps on changing her identity and location," said Abednego Kilonzo, a police chief inspector, said in a statement.

"She must have a new name from the previous ones," the statement added, read to the court by lawyer Eugene Wangila.

Lewthwaite is the subject of an Interpol "red notice" warrant for her detention, issued at Kenya's request.

She is wanted in Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011.

She has previously used a false South African passport and alias.

Lewthwaite, a 30-year-old Muslim convert, has been linked to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-tied Shebab rebels, who have launched a string of attacks in Kenya including last September's assault on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that claimed at least 67 lives.

She is the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of four Islamist suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network on July 7, 2005, killing 52 people.

Computer files seized from her previous home in Mombasa by police have shown the mother-of-four wrote poetry praising Osama bin Laden, as well as showing a keen interest in dieting and fitness programmes.

Kenyan media have reported several times witnesses seeing a mystery white woman during a string of grenade attacks or killings on the coast, but who apparently then vanishes without trace.

In June, media speculated that a white woman had been allegedly offered a police escort in April to visit a Kenyan army base in Somalia before disappearing.

Police dismissed the report and said it had been a Spanish tourist.

She has been variously reported as being seen riding a camel in Somalia, as well as across the other side of Africa, in Nigeria.

But there has been no confirmed sighting since she gave Kenyan police the slip in Mombasa in 2011, reportedly using her false South African passport.

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