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NAIROBI - The US embassy in Kenya on Saturday warned of the threat of an imminent attack in Mombasa, a top tourist destination, as Kenyan police arrested two Iranians on suspicion of planning bomb attacks.
"This is to alert all US citizens in Kenya, or planning to travel to Kenya in the near future, that the US embassy in Nairobi has received information of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Mombasa," a statement said.
"All US government travel to Mombasa is suspended until July 1."
France's embassy in Nairobi also warned its citizens to be "extremely vigilant" in Mombasa and the surrounding area.
The warnings came as Kenyan police said they had detained two Iranian nationals over suspected links to a terror network planning bombings in Mombasa and in the capital Nairobi.
"We are holding these two suspects, and they are being interrogated to establish their involvement in terrorism activities," said Aggrey Adoli, police chief for Coast province.
"They have been helpful, it is through them that we were able to find some chemicals which we believe is used to make explosives," he told AFP.
One of the Iranians was detained Wednesday in Nairobi, the other Thursday in Mombasa, police said.
Police in Nairobi have also seized bomb ingredients from two young men who were stopped during a routine patrol, according to a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday.
"We have recovered six kilograms (13 pounds) of materials used to make bombs and six detonators. We do not know where they were being taken and where they were from," the officer said.
"Officers... spotted two young men walking and when they stopped them to check their luggage, they dropped them and took off," disappearing into the crowd on a busy street, he added.
"We do not know if this has anything to do with what was found in Mombasa."
The call to shun Kenya's second city is likely to deal a further blow to tourism, a key revenue sector for the east African nation that only recently recovered from the violent fallout of a disputed 2007 presidential election.
Top Kenyan police officials immediately called for calm after the US warning.
"Police are working around the clock to guarantee security in Kenya," said police commissioner Mathew Iteere.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told AFP: "There is no cause for alarm, security agents are ahead of events. We are even working with the FBI and other international agencies in this war."
Coast province police are on "high alert", said criminal investigations chief Ambrose Munyasia.
"We are doing everything possible to ensure people in the Coast are safe. We have intensified security but we are urging the public to work closely with us in providing information," Munyasia said.
Since Kenya invaded southern Somalia in October 2011 to help oust Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, it has seen a wave of grenade attacks and kidnappings of foreign tourists blamed on the Shebab or their supporters.
In May dozens were wounded when a home-made bomb exploded in a Nairobi shopping centre.
The same month, a restaurant in Mombasa was hit by a deadly grenade attack, while two separate attacks wounded at least eight people in the northeast.
Last September gunmen seized a British couple -- Judith and David Tebbutt, both in their fifties -- who were on holiday at a resort on the idyllic Lamu archipelago.
They killed David Tebbutt, and his wife was captured and is believed to have been sold to pirates now holding her in central Somalia.
Three weeks later, disabled Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu was kidnapped from her home on Manda Island and later died in captivity in Somalia.
Briton Jermaine Grant, a Muslim convert, was arrested last year in Mombasa following raids to disrupt planned terror attacks by the Shebab.
He is accused of having links to Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of a British bomber involved in the 2005 London bombings.