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Kenya Announces Bombing Arrests

August 12, 1998

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Rescuers at the site of the U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi declared the search for survivors over today, hours after retrieving the body of Rose, a Kenyan whose cries had helped inspire their work. Kenya announced the arrest of several people in the bombing.

A brief statement from the office of President Daniel arap Moi said ``a number of people″ arrested were being questioned about Friday’s attack at the embassy in Nairobi but gave no further details.

Before the announcement, FBI investigators today pried loose from the embassy wall a blackened, wrecked vehicle that might have carried the deadly bomb and could be a vital piece of evidence.

With the end of the search _ and the retrieval of Rose’s body _ spirits sank. ``Everybody was Rose, everybody they could have pulled out alive,″ said Red Cross spokesman John Sparrow.

Rose Wanjiku was found at 3 a.m. when weary soldiers finally peeled back the last layers of wreckage that had trapped her near an elevator, said Israeli Col. Udi Benuri, rescue spokesman.

Five days after the explosion Friday, Benuri declared the search for survivors over at 10 a.m.

No one had been brought out alive since Saturday, the day after nearly simultaneous terrorist attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, a Tanzanian port, killed 257 people and injured more than 5,500.

Benuri said Rose died less than 24 hours before rescuers got to her. She last spoke Sunday, but her persistent tapping Monday spurred rescuers.

Reaching Rose was extremely difficult because of the weight of material blocking her and the danger of it shifting, Benuri said.

A total of 247 bodies were pulled from the Nairobi wreckage, including those of 12 Americans, and 5,436 people were injured, said Maj. Gen. George Agoi, Kenya’s chief of the rescue operation.

In Tanzania, 10 Africans were killed, and more than 70 hurt.

At the Nairobi embassy, a bulldozer pried off a vehicle plastered against the wall by the force of the blast. It was hauled across the street, to a parking lot the FBI has turned into a crime lab for bomb-blasted vehicles.

FBI agents scurried behind the bulldozer, scooping up the bits of debris-turned-evidence that tumbled from the shredded wreckage.

``I think they’ve moved most of the potential evidence across the road,″ said British army Capt. Rhyl Jones, who has been helping U.S. officials. Jones, a demolition expert who has investigated Irish Republican Army bombings in Northern Ireland, said the bomb left a crater 13 feet wide.

All that remained of the four-story Ufundi Cooperative building, which bore the brunt of the explosion aimed at the American Embassy next door, was churned up dirt littered with tattered clothes, stained papers, shattered glass and tangled wire.

Exhausted Kenyan, Israeli and French soldiers sprawled on the ground, some of them sleeping.

``It’s sad we didn’t save more people,″ said Sgt. Doron Caspi, a member of the Israeli team. ``Unfortunately, it was only bodies.″

Rescuers marked the end of their search with a ceremony at the ruins this afternoon.

The U.S., French, Kenyan, and Israeli flags flew at half staff on the rubble. Eight wreaths lay on a pyramid of broken concrete, which U.S. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell sprinkled with red roses.

Earlier, in an interview with APTV, she said three Kenyan employees of the embassy were still missing, down from 130 reported missing the day after the bombing. She also said the embassy had been turned over to the FBI as a crime scene.

Investigators suspect the powerful explosive Semtex was used in the attacks, but no link has been found to a particular group, a senior U.S. official in Washington said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Media organizations have received claims of responsibility in the name of the ``Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Shrines″ and the ``Army for the Liberation of Islamic Shrines.″ The claims could not be confirmed and may have come from the same source.

Investigators were looking at a large number of people with known terrorist connections and sympathies.

In Tanzania, police working with the FBI arrested 14 people, including six Sudanese, six Iraqis, a Somali-born Australian and a Turk. Australian officials said today the Australian had been freed.

Tanzania’s ambassador to Washington, Mustafa Salim Nyang’anyi, said some of those arrested ``may have had a hand″ in the attack that killed 10 Africans. He said they had been turned over to the FBI for interrogation.

In Dar es Salaam, a dozen FBI agents raked Laibon Road outside the wrecked embassy, searching debris for clues. The FBI said more than 175 agents are either in or heading to the two East African nations.

In Nairobi, FBI agents used cotton balls to swab fences, walls and metal fragments at the bomb site to capture traces of explosives.

The Kenyan Television Network on Tuesday night quoted a source as saying an engine block had been found in the crater.

In Washington, the United States said it has temporarily closed about half a dozen embassies because of increased threats of terrorism. Among them were the U.S. stations in Egypt, Malaysia and Yemen.

In Israel today, the daily Haaretz reported that Israel had advised U.S. officials to treat with skepticism a warning that the U.S. Embassy in Kenya might be the target of a bombing attack. An Israeli security official said the Americans had asked Israeli intelligence to assess the credibility of an intelligence source who had warned of an attack, the newspaper said. The report gave no other details about the source.

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