Aug 07, 1999

Anniversary of embassy bombings marked in Africa, America

 Colleagues, friends and family of more than 200 people killed in the twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania a year ago came together on two continents Saturday to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. ..

August 7, 1999
Web posted at: 9:19 p.m. EDT (0119 GMT)
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Colleagues, friends and family of more than 200 people killed in the twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania a year ago came together on two continents Saturday to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Thousands of Kenyans assembled at the spot where the U.S. Embassy stood until a year ago, when the bomb ripped it and two neighboring buildings apart. All but 12 of the 213 people killed on August 7, 1998, were Kenyans.

Diplomatic officials on Saturday broke ground for the new embassy in Tanzania, where an almost simultaneous attack killed another 11 people. More than 5,000 people were injured in the twin blasts.

Other U.S. and African dignitaries gathered for a memorial service in Washington, where U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright vowed, "We will not rest until every one of those responsible ... has been brought to justice."

'What is Kenya guilty of?'

During the two-hour ceremony in Nairobi, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi pondered why the attackers struck his country.

"Why choose Kenya? What is Kenya guilty of?" he said. Most of the victims were people "whose universe does not extend beyond Kenya's borders."

The bombing was an act of murder and "a slaughter of the innocents," echoed U.S. charge d'affaires Michael Marine, speaking to the crowd of 7,000.

"Both our nations and both our people were innocent victims," Marine said. "They were victims of those whose real agenda is hatred and destruction."

Many of the Kenyans who survived the Nairobi attack were maimed or disfigured by shattered glass and crumbling concrete. Rescue workers labored for days to dig through the rubble at both sites trying to find survivors.

The U.S. Embassy, citing security concerns, held a private ceremony for Kenyan and U.S. Embassy personnel at the ambassador's residence. A new embassy is to be built on the northern edge of Nairobi in the next four years. A memorial garden is planned for the bombing site.

Tanzania breaks ground for new embassy

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, U.S. and Tanzanian officials eschewed a memorial ceremony and instead broke ground for the new embassy.

In Washington, the State Department hosted a memorial service that featured a video tribute to the victims of the bombings and a poem by Robert Pinsky, U.S. poet laureate.

Among those attending was Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, who was slightly injured in the Nairobi attack.

At the ceremony, Albright announced the creation of a scholarship fund for children of killed U.S. embassy workers, and proposed a second fund to provide emergency assistance to the families of other embassy personnel who died in the blasts.

Albright: Mourning and rage are undiminished

"Although a year has passed ... our mourning for those who died, Americans and Africans, has not diminished," she said. "We miss them still and rage against their loss."

U.S. President Bill Clinton, in a statement read by National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, said the United States would not stop in the pursuit of those guilty of the bombings.

"Working with our friends abroad, we have tracked down, arrested and indicted key suspects," Berger said, "and we will not rest until justice is done."

U.S. offers $5 million for bin Laden, two aides

U.S. federal prosecutors have charged 17 people in the bombings, including Osama bin Laden, a Saudi dissident who has declared war against the United States.

The U.S. government has offered up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of bin Laden, suspected as the bombings mastermind, and two top lieutenants. But he and seven charged suspects in the bombings remain at large.

The date of the attacks holds a special significance for bin Laden. On that day in 1990 U.S. troops deployed to Saudi Arabia following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. He considers the presence of the troops in his native country an offense against Islam.

Nairobi Bureau Chief Catherine Bond, Correspondents Peter Bergen and Kathleen Koch, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.