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French Tanker Similar to USS Cole

October 24, 2002

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SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ The attack on a French oil tanker off Yemen earlier this month was similar to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and might have been carried out by the same group, Yemen’s prime minister said Thursday.

The United States blames Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida for the suicide attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors on the Cole two years ago while the ship was refueling in the southern port of Aden.

Like the Cole, the tanker Limburg was attacked by a small explosives-laden boat off Yemen’s coast on Oct. 6, killing one Bulgarian crew member.

``There is no doubt that the act was terrorism and people or groups involved in terrorism were behind it,″ Prime Minister Abdul-Kader Bajammal told the 26 September daily.

``Those who carried the Cole attack might very well be from the same school as those who attacked the French tanker.″

Yemen has not set a date for the trial of at least six people arrested in the Cole investigation, and so far it hasn’t directly linked the attack to al-Qaida.

An intelligence official in Washington has said U.S. experts believed the Limburg attack was carried out by operatives with links to al-Qaida.

Two statements last week attributed to bin Laden and al-Qaida hailed the explosion on the tanker but didn’t directly claim responsibility.

Meanwhile, officials close to the Yemeni-French probe said investigators recovered maps from a house rented by the attackers.

The officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the boat used in the attack was bought from outside Yemen and transported by land into the country.

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