The U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, 1998

80 feared dead, 1,000 hurt in Africa blasts.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Up to 80 people were feared dead and over 1,000 injured in two huge car bomb attacks on Friday aimed at the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, police and witnesses said.

“Clearly this is a terrorist attack,” U.S. State Department spokesman Lee McClenny said in Washington.

A huge blast ripped through the Kenyan capital Nairobi at 10.35 am (0735 GMT) and was followed minutes later by one in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam.

“At the moment we have 20 confirmed dead, but there are a lot of people trapped in the building (next to the U.S. embassy) – maybe another 60,” said a police official in the Kenyan capital.

Tanzanian police said two people died in the Dar es Salaam attack.

The Dar es Salaam explosion also caused minor damage to the French embassy nearby, the French Foreign Ministry said in Paris.

“A violent explosion at the U.S. embassy caused light material damage to the French embassy doown the street,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said. There were no injuries among embassy personnel.

Police said the Kenyan bomb was aimed at the U.S. embassy, but Ufundi House next door, which houses small offices and a secretarial college, took the brunt of the explosion.

They said they believed the bomb had been planted in a car parked in an alley between the two buildings.

The blast almost levelled the five-storey Ufundi House and caused extensive damage to the embassy.

Rescue workers were trying desperately to dig their way into the piled high wreckage of Ufundi House to reach possibly dozens of people trapped inside.

Reporters saw 25 bodies being carried away.

Kenya’s KTN televison said some of the dead were passengers on a commuter bus passing by at the moment of the blast. Television pictures showed a badly damaged bus with a man apprently dead in the driver’s seat and others dead or injured inside.

In Dar es Saalam, police said the blast came from a car parked near the U.S. embassy in a residential suburb on the outskirts of the city.

No one has claimed responsibility for either attack.

Eda Rubia, a management consultant who was walking near the U.S. embassy in Nairobi when the blast happened, said: “I heard a loud bang then the whole place was shaking and within a split second glass was falling on my head,”

“It was strange … a big bang and then I was lying on the floor. All around me were people, bleeding,” said Simon Tafei, a messenger.

Hospital authorities in Nairobi said over 1,000 people were injured in the blast and issued an urgent appeal for blood.

“We have received more than 200 people,” said Mike Sheldon, administrator at the private Nairobi Hospital. “Some are very seriously injured.”

“It is all chaos,” an official at the city’s main Kenyatta Hospital said. “We are treating hundreds … too many, we can’t say.”

There, doctors and medical students were battling to deal with the overwhelming number of patients being brought in by ambulances, police cars, private cars and taxis.

U.S. ambassador Prudence Bushnell was superficially injured in the attack but was back at work, officials said.

U.S officials in Washington said U.S. citizens were among the dead and injured in the two attacks. At least two embassy officials were in serious condition at Nairobi hospital. Kenyan Trade Minister Joseph Kamotho was also injured.

The Nairobi blast rocked the city and a dense plume of smoke soared above the skyline.

The explosion blew the windows out of office buildings up to five blocks away and was heard five kilometers (three miles) from the city centre.

The scene became one of immediate chaos with hundreds of people trying to flee at the same time as thousands rushed to the scene to see what had happened. The city quickly became logjammed, causing extra problems for ambulances and rescue workers.

The charred bodies of the some victims lay in the street near mannequins blown out of the windows of nearby clothes shops. Scores of people were seen covered in blood from injuries caused by flying glass.

Telephone and satellite links between Kenya, Tanzania and the rest of the world were affected by the explosions with banks and other businesses coming to a standstill.

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi immediately issued a statement condemming the attack and said the authorities would do anything possible “to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book”.

Kenya and Tanzania have rarely been the scene of urban violence of this sort.

In 1979, however, the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi was flattened by an explosion which killed several tourists.

It was claimed by a shadowy Arab group in retaliation for Kenya allowing Israeli troops to refuel in Nairobi during their raid on Uganda’s Entebbe airport to rescue hostages from a hijacked airplane.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

Rescuers dig through night for bomb survivors.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Two huge bomb blasts at U.S embassies in east Africa on Friday killed up to 80 people, injured about 1,200 and brought morning rush-hour carnage to the streets of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Hundreds of blood-covered workers at the two embassies and nearby buildings ran screaming into the streets after the coordinated attacks in the Kenyan and Tanzanian capitals, which were barely 10 minutes apart.

Passengers in a bus caught by the Nairobi blast were incinerated in their seats.

President Clinton denounced the attacks as cowardly and inhuman and vowed to bring the bombers to justice.

Rescue workers dug through mountains of rubble for hours after the blast and continued into the night, desperately searching for survivors.

But already claims were surfacing that the bulk of the effort in Nairobi was being directed to rescuing embassy staff rather than local victims in nearby buildings.

No one claimed responsibility for either attack, but as recently as this week, Egypt’s banned Jihad group said it would retaliate for Washington’s help in extraditing Islamisists to Cairo from Albania.

An embassy spokesman in Nairobi said at least eight U.S. embassy staff or citizens were confirmed dead and seven others still missing after the Kenya blast and Clinton ordered American flags at diplomatic missions around the world be flown at half mast.

The United States was also sending emergency medical staff from Germany to help treat the injured and a Federal Bureau of Investigation team to probe the blasts.

A huge explosion ripped through Nairobi at 10.35 a.m. (0735 GMT) and was soon followed by another in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam.

The timing – and the fact that both were car bombs and the targets U.S. embassies – left few observers doubting it was anything but a sophisticated, coordinated operation.

The scene in both capitals swiftly became chaotic, with one witness in Dar es Salaam saying the area looked like a war zone.

In Nairobi, scores of people were cut by flying glass as the explosion blew windows from office buildings up to five blocks away.

Hospital authorities in the Kenyan capital said over 1,200 people were injured in the blast and issued an urgent appeal for blood.

U.S. ambassador Prudence Bushnel

At one centre alone, the private Nairobi Hospital, administrator Mike Sheldon said: “We have received more than 200 people. Some are very seriously injured.”

The biggest toll was at Ufundi House, a five-storey office block that is home to a a dozen or so small businesses and also a secretarial college.

The building, next door to the embassy, caved in, crushing to death scores of people.

The army had taken over digging operations, but some volunteer workers complained that the intial effort had gone towards helping U.S. embassy staff despite it being clear that Ufundi House had been worse hit.

“The Americans did nothing to help us,” said Kariuki Chege, a volunteer who said he spent seven hours on the roof of Ufundi house.

Other workers echoed his sentiments.

“At the moment we have 37 people confirmed dead,” said Otieno Oyoo, a deputy commissioner of police. But he said dozens more were believed buried beneath Ufundi House and the death toll was expected to rise above 80.

A U.S. embassy official in Dar es Salaam said six people were killed and 58 injured in the Tanzanian blast. No Americans were among the dead, but several embassy staff were injured.

Police said the Kenyan bomb had been planted in a Mitsubishi Pajero car parked in an alley between the embassy and Ufundi House.

Eda Rubia, a management consultant who was walking near the embassy in Nairobi, said: “I heard a loud bang then the whole place was shaking and within a split second glass was falling on my head.”

“It is all chaos,” an official at Nairobi’s main Kenyatta Hospital said. “We are treating hundreds … too many, we can’t say.”

There, doctors and medical students were battling to deal with the overwhelming number of patients being brought in by ambulances, police cars, private cars and taxis.

U.S. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell was superficially injured in the attack but was back at work, officials said.

Kenyan Trade Minister Joseph Kamotho, whose office was next door to Ufundi House, was also injured and he was expected to remain in hospital overnight. Bushnell had just left Kamotho’s office after a meeting to discuss U.S.-Kenyan relations.

The Nairobi blast rocked the city and a dense plume of smoke soared above the skyline.

The charred bodies of the some victims lay in the street near mannequins blown out of the windows of nearby clothes shops.

Telephone and satellite links between Kenya, Tanzania and the rest of the world were affected by the explosions with banks and other businesses coming to a standstill.

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi issued a statement condemming the attack and said the authorities would do everything possible “to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book”. He later toured the scene and visited some of the injured.

Julius Meme, Kenya’s director of Medical Services, told Reuters that the response to appeals had been fantastic. “People have been donating blood, blankets, everything,” he said.

Kenya and Tanzania have rarely been the scene of urban violence of this sort.

In December 1980, however, the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi was flattened by a blast which killed 20 people and injured 80.

It was claimed by a shadowy Arab group in retaliation for Kenya allowing Israeli troops to refuel in Nairobi during their raid on Uganda’s Entebbe airport to rescue hostages from a hijacked aircraft.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

Sense of order returns to scene of Kenya bomb blast.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Rescue workers on Saturday battled to try to reach at least five people believed to be alive but trapped deep in the rubble caused by a devastating car bomb attack on the U.S. embassy 24 hours earlier.

As they struggled to cope with the devastation caused by the collapse of a five-storey building almost levelled by the blast next to the U.S. embassy, a sense of order seemed finally to have settled on the scene.

Kenyan and British army engineers appeared to have taken charge of the operation and – aided by gun-toting United States marines – have cleared the area of all but essential personel.

The first hours after the blast were marked by the sort of Kenyan public spiritedness that at once both helped and hindered the operation.

The car bomb exploded on Friday morning from a Mitsubishi Pajero parked between the United States embassy and Ufundi House, an office block which is home to several small businesses as well as a secretarial college.

The blast punched out windows from buildings as far away as five blocks, showering thousands of pedestrians in the city centre with glass and masonry.

In seconds the scene became one of complete pandemonium.

As scores of injured people ran in terror, blood streaming from their wounds, hundreds more sprinted towards the site to gawk at the spectacle.

Nairobi’s traffic – never the smoothest on a good day – swiflty ground to a halt, causing extra problems for a fleet of cars, ambulances and taxis trying to ferry the injured to hospitals.

Hundreds of volunteers from the thousands of unemployed Nairobi residents who roam the streets each day in search of work descended on the bomb site, literally tearing at the rubble with their hands in the hunt for survivors.

One man was plucked alive from rubble more than five hours later, grimacing in pain but bellowing “God is great” as he was carried off on a stretcher.

But the darker side of Nairobi life also emerged.

Police said six volunteers were beaten up by enraged crowds and later arrested after being caught looting the site and stripping the dead of valuables.

It has become a sad but inevitable consequence of almost every Kenyan traffic accident or other disaster in the past few years as the country struggles in the grip of a moribund economy.

Arguments broke out among volunteer rescue workers, police, government officials, journalists and the army.

The scene at the bombers’ target, the U.S embassy next door, was a complete contrast.

Marines kept the crowd at bay, swiftly errected black cloth around the embassy fence and focused their efforts on the embassy.

Their action led to charges by scores of volunteers that the American were only interested in their own citizens and were not concerned with the Kenyan dead and injured in the building next door.

At least eight U.S. citizens died in the blast and five others are unnaccounted for. At Ufundi House, the confirmed death toll is over 70 with an unknown number still buried in the rubble.

Member of Parliament Agustine Kathangu, who visited the scene, told the Daily Nation newspaper: “I am disgusted at the appalling rescue efforts of the military and police. There is no coordination at all”.

That was evident in the early hours of Saturday morning as dozens of people scrambled over the rubble, calling for torches, hacksaws and rope from a clearly ill-equipped rescue force.

By mid-morning, however, it was clear who was in charge.

Americans carrying side-arms and wearing body armour had taken a grip and British army engineers were directing their Kenyan colleagues on how best to use bulldozers and earthmoving equipment brought in to help the work.

With planeloads of U.S. experts due in the Kenyan capital later on Saturday, few observers doubt the Kenyan government won’t take advantage of their experience and let them direct the rest of the operation.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

East African blasts probe swings into gear.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Bill Clinton vowed on Saturday to do everything it takes to catch the culprits of two devastating car bombs aimed at Washington’s missions in East Africa that left at least 141 people dead and thousands injured.

As a huge U.S. investigation and international rescue mission swung into gear in Kenya and Tanzania, Clinton said in a weekly radio address that the United States would never bow to terrorism.

“No matter how long it takes or where it takes us we will pursue terrorists until the cases are solved and justice is done,” Clinton said.

“…we will continue to take the fight to terrorists.”

Clinton spoke as dozens of U.S. medical assistants and forensic experts continued to arrive in the region to help the East African nations cope with the tragedy.

They were joined by experts from South Africa, Israel, France, Britain and Germany. Offers of help came from India, Japan and scores of other countries as the operation took on the appearance of a grand military alliance.

Israeli experts took over a desperate scramble for survivors thought to be trapped beneath the rubble of a building next to the U.S. embassy in Nairobi that was flattened in Friday’s blast.

They plucked a survivor from the rubble late on Saturday evening, nearly 36 hours after the bomb brought the building crashing down around him.

Another man died on the verge of being rescued, having survived more than 24 hours pinned beneath tonnes of concrete and debris.

Although the official death toll from the Kenya blast stands at 132, rescue workers fear between 20 and 30 more lie crushed beneath the collapsed Ufundi House. The number of injured stands at 4,149.

In neighbouring Tanzania, the death toll rose to nine as three people died during the day of injuries from the car bomb that went off outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam. More than 70 people were wounded in the blast.

Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya who was slightly injured in the blast, said the United States had no idea who was responsible.

“As to theories…I have none. Do you?” she asked a news conference.

Eleven U.S. citizens were killed in the Kenya blast but none died in Dar es Salaam.

“Terrorism has been brought to our doorsteps,” Kenyan Foreign Minister Bonaya Godana told a news conference.

The blasts occurred minutes apart at around 0735 GMT on Friday, the first one rocking the Kenyan capital and sending a dense plume of smoke into the air.

Glass and rubble rained down on pedestrians walking through the central business district as the explosion punched out the windows of office blocks up to five blocks away.

Of the more than 4,000 injured, dozens are still in critical condition in Nairobi’s hospitals, but officials say medical staff have responded like heroes.

“I was very proud to be Kenyan,” Trade Minister Joseph Kamotho, who was injured in the blast, told Reuters from his hospital bed.

But in the city’s main morgue, corpses lay side by side or piled on top of each other across the entire length of the floor. Many were limbless or bent into unnatural angles. The innards of others hung from bellies ripped open in the explosion.

In single-file, a grim procession of relatives passed slowly through the narrow building. An eerie hush filled the room, broken only by the sound of shuffling feet and the occasional muffled cry as a body was recognised.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the blasts as “indiscriminate terrorism”, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth sent a message of support and tributes poured in from African capitals.

A previously unknown Islamic group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the twin bombings and vowed more attacks to drive American and Western troops from Moslem countries.

A series of statements sent on Saturday to a television station broadcasting to the Gulf said the Nairobi bombing was carried out by two Islamic fundamentalist dissidents originally from the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, while an Egyptian staged the Dar es Salaam attack. It did not mention the men’s fate.

The senders called themselves “The Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Places”.

Similar statements were sent to Radio France International and a London-based Arabic newspaper but there was no indication that the senders could provide evidence for their claims.

The messages called for the release from prison of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for plotting bombings in New York, and several others who appeared to be fundamentalist preachers in Saudi Arabia.

It was not immediately known whether U.S. investigators would give credence to the claim.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

Kenya buries its dead as blast probe widens.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Kenya began the grim task of burying its dead on Sunday as officials announced the first breaks in the investigation of deadly bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

To the cries of “God is Great”, the almost headless body of Farhat Sheikh was slowly lowered into a freshly-dug grave at Nairobi’s main Moslem cemetry on Sunday.

The bitter irony that a Moslem fundamentalist group had claimed responsibility for the attacks was not lost on his family.

“He was a true Moslem and yet they killed him,” Sheikh’s brother-in-law, Zahir Khan said. “They have achieved nothing in their objective.”

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi told reporters that investigators were following “a few leads” in connection with the Nairobi blast, but in Tanzania a U.S. official said a security camera mounted atop the embassy building may have captured the bombers in the act.

The latest death toll in Kenya now stands at 174 – including 11 Americans – according to a government committee set up to deal with the crisis, but rescue workers digging through the ruins of a building flattened by the blast fear dozens more bodies may still lie in the rubble.

They were concentrating their efforts, however, on searching for survivors – although hopes were dwindling nearly 60 hours after the bombs went off.

The head of the Israeli rescue force in Kenya told reporters that a woman they had been trying to pluck from the rubble of the building had stopped speaking, and they feared she had died.

In Tanzania, investigators were focusing on a blue water-delivery tanker which drew near to the embassy gates just before the blast.

“We are not sure if it was a car bomb or if it was a (water) truck bomb,” a diplomat told reporters in a briefing.

There was a crater outside the embassy perimeter on the street which appeared to be the centre of the explosion, and the tanker had been blasted right up to the embassy wall.

Both the driver and assistant of the tanker were killed in the explosion, the diplomat said.

On Sunday a grey mist covered the Kenyan capital like a shroud and church bells pealed across the country in tribute to the dead.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Moslems – who make up around 10 percent of Kenya’s approximately 30 million population – called the blast “a heinous act of terrorism”.

A previously unknown Islamic group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the twin bombings and vowed more attacks to drive American and Western troops from Moslem countries.

It said the Nairobi bombing was carried out by two men from Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, while an Egyptian staged the Dar es Salaam attack. It did not mention the men’s fate.

The group called itself “The Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Places”.

U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told American television it was far too soon to publicly identify possible suspects but added: “We take all of that seriously.”

As the international rescue operation continued, U.S. President Bill Clinton vowed to do everything possible to catch the culprits.

Clinton spoke as dozens of U.S. medical assistants and forensic experts continued to arrive in the region to help the East African nations cope with the tragedy.

They were joined by experts from South Africa, Israel, France, Britain and Germany. Offers of help came from India, Japan and scores of other countries as the operation took on the appearance of a grand military alliance.

Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya who was slightly injured in the blast, said the United States had no idea who was responsible.

“As to theories…I have none. Do you?” she asked a news conference.

The blasts occurred minutes apart at around 0735 GMT on Friday, the first one rocking the Kenyan capital and sending a dense plume of smoke into the air.

Glass and rubble rained down on pedestrians walking through the central business district as the explosion punched out the windows of office blocks as far as five blocks away.

Order appeared to have returned to Kenya’s hospitals in the chaotic aftermath of the blast, which left nearly 5,000 injured.

Doctors said they had now discharged scores of people and taken many off the critical list.

U.S. medical teams also evacuated 10 Americans and five Kenyans working in the embassy to Germany, U.S. embassy spokesman Bill Barr said.

Hundreds of people still jostled for space around noticeboards in hospitals to see where their relatives were admitted, whether they had been discharged – or had died.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

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Witnesses give conflicting accounts of Kenya blast.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 10 (Reuters) – Investigators probing the deadly car bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Kenya will have to sift through thousands of varying eyewitness accounts before getting to the truth.

Three days after blast – which killed up to 200 people and injured over 5,000 others – it seems almost as many versions of the attack exists as there are survivors.

People can be excused for the confusion.

From the Reuters office just six blocks from the embassy, staff heard a massive explosion coming from the central business district and saw a dark cloud mushrooming above the skyline.

Reporters, photographers and cameramen were quickly at the site and reported scenes of complete pandemonium.

The blast punched out windows from office blocks as far as five blocks away, showering thousands of city workers and pedestrians with a deadly spray of glass.

As the injured fled in panic – some leaving a trail of blood behind them – thousands of spectators rushed to the scene to volunteer help or merely gawk at the spectacle.

Everyone claimed to have seen something significant, but their versions were as tangled as the ruins of Ufundi House, the office block next to the embassy that was flattened by the blast.

The U.S. embassy is a six-storey building of reinforced concrete and, supposedly, bomb-proof windows, although every one was blown out by the blast.

In the heart of the city, it has has no grounds as such, but is surrounded by a thick reinforced steel fence and a gate, around 15 metres (yards) from the building itself. U.S. marines regularly patrol the space between the fence and the mission and also man the gate.

Outside the fence, at the rear of the embassy and behind Ufundi House, was a car park used by embassy staff and visitors to the U.S. mission.

This area was guarded by “askaris”, Kiswahili for the local, unarmed and sometimes untrained Kenyan security guards who are a permanent feature of this crime-ridden city.

What is clear is that the blast originated from a car parked in the embassy car park.

Some witnesses claim to have seen a man sitting in pick-up truck as it exploded. It is scarcely possible they could have lived to tell the tale as virtually ever other vehicle in the park spontaneously burst into flames and rubble from Ufundi house came crashing down.

Others claim to have seen a vehicle explode as it crashed through the pole barrier at the entrance to the car park. Anyone this close would have to be be very lucky to be alive.

Local newspapers have quoted other witnesses as saying three “Arab-looking men” leapt out of a vehicle, lobbed a grenade at the embassy proper and engaged marines in a firefight before the blast.

Some witnesses say one of the men was arrested immediately after the blast, and newspapers carried photographs of an “Arab-looking man” – almost a cliche in the aftermath of terror attacks around the world – being led away by police.

Kenya is home to a significant population of Indians and Pakistanis as well as tens of thousands of Somalis, Sudanese and Ethiopians.

Many of them are Moslems; Friday is Islam’s holy day of prayer and the city’s main mosque is also in the centre of town – in short, any of them might be described as “Arab-looking”.

Scores of U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation specialists have been flown in to probe the blast, but they have kept quiet so far on what they may have found.

One thing is clear however – they may have to dig deeper that the rubble of Ufundi House to uncover the truth.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

Arrests made in embassy bombing, US offers reward.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 10 (Reuters) – The first arrests in the bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa were made on Monday as rescue workers frantically searched for survivors from last Friday’s devastating blasts.

Investigators in Dar es Salaam said they had arrested possible suspects for the attack in Tanzania which occurred within minutes of a more powerful blast in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Police Commissioner Wilson Mwansasu confirmed “some arrests” but he could not say how many or whether those being held were considered prime suspects.

In Washington, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice said she had heard from Tanzanian authorities that three groups of suspects had been arrested.

Mwansasu said senior officers were meeting on the case. Further details were not immediately available.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright announced a reward of up to $2 million for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the bombings.

By Monday afternoon, the death toll from the twin blasts had risen to 202, all but 10 in Nairobi, but a faint tapping sound gave Nairobi rescue workers hope that a woman was still alive beneath the rubble.

U.S. President Bill Clinton, who has vowed to hunt down those responsible for the bombs no matter how long it took, cut short a trip to the U.S. West Coast on Wednesday to discuss the bombings with his foreign policy advisers.

The flag-draped coffins containing the bodies of 11 of the 12 Americans killed in the Nairobi bombing – none was killed in Dar es Salaam – left Kenya aboard a U.S. Air Force plane. The family of one of the American victims, who had married a Kenyan, chose to bury her in Kenya.

Albright, who was to fly to Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base in Frankfurt, Germany, to escort the bodies home, told State Department employees in Washington she and Clinton were preparing a budget request to rebuild the shattered embassy building and tighten security at other U.S. missions.

Dressed in black, Albright vowed that the United States “will not be intimidated” by the explosions.

“Although terror can turn buildings to rubble and laughter to tears, it can never, will never, deter America from its purpose or presence around the globe,” she said.

In Nairobi, rescue workers continued the delicate task of sifting through tonnes of concrete and debris to try to reach possible survivors of the attack on the U.S. mission there, described by a British army engineer as “the biggest bomb I have ever seen”.

The sound of tapping from the rubble of a Nairobi office block earlier on Monday gave fatigued rescue workers renewed hope there was at least one more survivor but hours later they had still not reached the source of the sound.

Rescuers have been working around the clock to reach a woman, known only as “Rose”, from the collapsed structure of Ufundi House, next door to the U.S. mission.

“I am full of hope she is alive and is hanging in there,” said Meital Hallawi, a first officer in the Israeli army rescue unit leading the operation. “Rose is very strong.”

The British army engineer, who arrived at the scene with a contingent of men about an hour after the blast, told Reuters the bomb could have contained as much as 250 kg (550 lb) of explosive.

Jones told Reuters that any number of commercial explosives could have been used to construct the bomb, including ammonium phosphate and plastic explosives.

“I reckon it was a pretty well-made bomb. I don’t think it was manufactured locally,” he said. “I am only surmising but I would imagine it was manufactured somewhere else and shipped in.”

Despite news of the arrests in Tanzania, investigators warned it could take time to identify the perpetrators of the attacks, which struck the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam minutes apart on Friday morning.

In Washington, national security officials warned that the probe could be a long one but said the United States would never rest until the attackers were brought to justice.

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi told reporters on Sunday that investigators were following “a few leads” in connection with the Nairobi blast.

A previously unknown Islamic group calling itself “The Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Places” on Saturday claimed responsibility for the bombings and vowed more attacks to drive American and Western troops from Moslem countries.

It said the Nairobi bombing was carried out by two men from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, while an Egyptian staged the Dar es Salaam attack. It did not mention the fate of the men.

U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told American television on Sunday it was far too soon to publicly identify possible suspects but added: “We take all of that seriously”.

In Tanzania, a U.S. official said a security camera mounted atop the bombed embassy may have captured the bombers in the act. He gave no details about what the tape might show.

Dozens of U.S. medical assistants and forensic experts have arrived in the region to help the two East African nations cope with the tragedy. They have been joined by experts from South Africa, Israel, France, Britain and Germany.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

U.S. struggles to shake bias accusations after bomb.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 12 (Reuters) – The United States is struggling to shake off accusations that it was concerned mainly with its own citizens after the deadly attack on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

An editorial in the Kenya Times, owned by the ruling Kenya African National Union party, criticised U.S. Marines for being more concerned with American than Kenyan lives after the bomb went off.

“The question will remain for a long time to come whether the abstract notion that the U.S. embassy is American territory is an excuse to behave as the U.S. Marines did,” the editorial said.

At least 244 people were killed – including 12 Americans – by a huge car bomb aimed at the U.S. embassy in Kenya’s capital last Friday. A simultaneous attack on the U.S. mission in neighbouring Tanzania killed 10 people, none of them Americans.

The Nairobi blast extensively damaged the embassy building but almost levelled Ufundi House next door, home to a number of small businesses as well as a secretarial college.

Most of the dead were in Ufundi House when the bomb went off, but the 12 Americans and 21 Kenyan members of staff died in the embassy itself.

As scores of volunteers rushed to help rescue people trapped in the rubble, gun-toting Marines kept them away from the embassy.

“We were so close to a woman but we just couldn’t reach her,” volunteer rescuer Jackson Muthomi told Reuters on Friday as he worked on Ufundi House.

“I asked the Americans for a drill but they said they would have to authorise it and in the end it was too late.”

His story has been echoed by scores of volunteer workers in local newspapers since the blast.

The privately owned East African Standard also criticised the United States in an editorial headed: “The ugly side of Americans”.

“Like it or not, there is discontent among ordinary people and their perception of the American attitude towards the local population and this tragedy,” it said.

A cartoon in the Daily Nation, East Africa’s biggest-circulation daily, showed a white man being carried from rubble to a plane marked “Airforce Rescue One”. In the foreground is a Kenyan with his leg blown off being told by burly Marines: “We can’t take you for some security reasons.”

U.S. officials have tried to defend themselves from the charges, but the whispering campaign continues.

Many Kenyans are deeply unhappy that immediately after the blast, Washington issued a travel advisory urging Americans not to visit Kenya.

U.S. officials have vehemently denied one story concerning the three-day delay by embassy officials in finding the 12th American victim.

According to the story, 10 of the victims were white and another of Asian extraction and their bodies were swiftly taken to a private morgue in the city.

But the 12th victim was black and U.S. officials did not notice his body being dumped with those of dozens of local Kenyans in the overcrowded government mortuary.

U.S. officials have embarked on a campaign to improve their image.

The embassy, now located at the Kenya headquarters of USAID, Washington’s external aid agency, has issued a two-page statement which painstakingly details every aspect of U.S. assistance to the operation so far.

“American search-and-rescue teams have not only worked at the U.S. Embassy, but also continue to assist in ongoing search efforts at the other buildings damaged or destroyed,” the statement said.

The embassy evacuated all seriously wounded Americans for medical treatment abroad, as well as 12 Kenyan embassy staff.

But the image remains, and the Standard editorial also took issue with the high-level armed U.S. presence currently on Kenyan soil.

“Compare today’s heavy-handed, some would say insensitive, presence of U.S. Marines ringing the embassy – some looking more suited to a Rambo movie than the bread-and-butter role of a guard in a city centre – with the lax situation of just one week ago,” it said.

“Razor wire may be necessary (although that’s debatable), but is there any need for all the canvas sheeting, complete with Stars and Stripes and flags of the various units?…”

In stark contrast, the Israeli army rescue team which worked around the clock from Saturday morning to try pull survivors from Ufundi House have been greeted as heroes.

“They have identified with our suffering fully and we are grateful,” Edmond Wafula told the Standard. “They are a wonderful lot.”

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

Kenya holds suspects, criticism of U.S. mounts.

By David Fox

NAIROBI, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Kenyan police made a number of arrests on Wednesday in connection with the deadly car bomb attack on the U.S. embassy as criticism of American priorities in the aftermath of the blast mounted.

“A number of persons have been detained in relation to this incident and are providing useful leads into the circumstances surrounding the bomb blast,” President Daniel arap Moi said in a statement which gave no details of the arrests.

But its phrasing suggested Moi was starting to take note of a growing wave of resentment among Kenyans angered at perceived U.S. discrimination immediately after the blast.

“The government is grateful that many Kenyans, especially members of the public, have provided and continue to provide useful information to the various branches of the Kenya police who are in charge of these investigations,” the statement said.

The words “Kenyans” and “Kenya police” were capitalised.

At least 247 people – including 12 Americans – were killed in the Nairobi blast, while a simultaneous attack on the U.S. mission in Tanzania killed 10 people, none of them Americans.

The Nairobi bomb extensively damaged the embassy but almost levelled the neighbouring Ufundi House – home to a number of small businesses and a secretarial college.

As volunteers rushed to help people trapped in the rubble, gun-toting Marines kept them away from the embassy.

Local newspapers said the bodies of 10 white Americans and a citizen of Asian extraction were taken to a private morgue, while those of Kenyan staff were dumped in the city mortuary.

The body of the 12th American, who was black, was recovered from the pile of Kenyan corpses three days later, they said.

Kenya Times, owned by Moi’s Kenya African National Union party, wrote: “The question will remain for a long time to come whether the abstract notion that the U.S. embassy is American territory is an excuse to behave as the U.S. Marines did.”

An East African Standard editorial – “The ugly side of Americans” – said: “Like it or not, there is discontent among ordinary people and their perception of the American attitude towards the local population and this tragedy.”

U.S. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell denied the accusations in an interview with commerical KTN television on Wednesday night.

“Our house was on fire…our children were in danger,” she said. “We were rescuing people. People are people. There was no determination of race.”

Health Management Solutions, a private Kenyan medical aid organisation, claimed U.S. officials pressured the South African air force to forgo airlifting emergency supplies to Nairobi to free up the plane to evacuate the embassy’s wounded.

“The American government must stand accused not just of an open act of discrimination, but also of deliberately sabotaging humanitarian efforts in order to protect itself and its own,” the organisation said in a statement.

A multinational rescue team wrapped up its operation on Wednesday after abandoning hope of pulling any more survivors from Ufundi House.

The last glimmer evaporated when the Israeli-led team recovered the body of Rose Wanjiku, whom rescuers had heard tapping from beneath the rubble on Monday.

“This morning we finished the mission,” said Colonel Udi Ben Uri of the Israeli army. “We pulled out 95 bodies (since rescue efforts began). We found three people trapped alive.”

At a ceremony to mark the end of the operation, a large gathering of Kenyan, French, Israeli and U.S. rescue workers and officials held a minute’s silence in remembrance of the victims.

An Israeli official read a speech which ended with the Hebrew saying “He who saves one soul saves the entire world”.

The focus was shifting to the investigators who must sift through the blast site, eyewitness accounts and endless rumours in their hunt for clues to the identity of the bombers.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has scheduled a news conference for Thursday to brief reporters on its inquiry. FBI officers had been unable to get full access to the site until the rescue operation wrapped up.

Tanzanian police arrested 14 foreigners – six Iraqis, six Sudanese, a Somali and a Turk – in their search for those responsible but said on Tuesday that none had been charged.

Police released the Somali, who holds an Australian passport, on Wednesday after checks showed he worked for the United Nations refugee agency and was en route from Sudan to a new posting in western Tanzania.

A previously unknown group calling itself The Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Places has claimed responsibility, but there has been no evidence to support the claim.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Germany on Wednesday to accompany the bodies of 10 of the 12 American dead to the United States.

Albright vowed that Washington would continue to play a leading role in internatonal affairs despite the bombings.

“We will not be intimidated or pushed off the world stage by people who do not like what we stand for,” Albright told reporters after visiting U.S. embassy staff wounded in the Nairobi bombing who were being treated at a U.S military hospital in Germany.

The body of Senior Master Sergeant Sherry Lynn Olds left Ramstein Air Base in southwest Germany on Wednesday morning at the request of her family. The other American victim is being buried in Kenya.

U.S. President Bill Clinton will speak at a ceremony on Thursday at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington to mark the return of the bodies.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.

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About FoxFromZim

I am a journalist from Zimbabwe, currently based in Singapore. I report chiefly on international affairs, specialising in politics, war and natural disasters when not playing golf badly.
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