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U.S. Investigators Return to Yemen

August 4, 2001

SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ American investigators looking into last year’s USS Cole bombing have returned to Yemen, nearly two months after leaving because of a security threat, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.

The Oct. 12 attack on the U.S. Navy destroyer in the southern port of Aden killed 17 American sailors and injured 39.

The team of six investigators returned to the capital San`a on Thursday, said Donna Visocan, the embassy’s acting public affairs officer.

``They are here to discuss continued cooperation with Yemeni officials regarding the investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole,″ she said, adding that the team of investigators included FBI agents.

After a security threat was made on June 9, the FBI withdrew its personnel investigating the bombing, the U.S. Embassy closed, and eight people were arrested in connection with an alleged plot on the embassy.

The embassy reopened last month.

A senior Yemeni Defense Ministry official said that very tight security measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the investigators. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to elaborate.

The Yemeni side will put forward a number of suggestions, including setting a time frame to complete the investigation and setting a trial date for eight suspects arrested in connection with the attack, another Yemeni official said on condition of anonymity.

So far, Yemeni officials have held off on the trial, apparently as FBI investigators sought more time to gather information on other suspects who might have played a role in the attack.

With some suspects held since October, Yemen’s government is under domestic pressure _ including from local human rights groups _ to bring the case to trial.

The families of some of the suspects have recently met senior political and military officials, in an attempt to push the government to begin the trial, an official said.

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