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Africa Bombing Probes Push Ahead

August 15, 1998

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ While the investigation to unmask the mystery bombers in East Africa entered a second week without firm answers, Kenyans buried their dead today and sought to endure their ``undeserved grief.″

The FBI says it will take another month or more to finish examining the scenes of the Aug. 7 bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 257 people and injured more than 5,500.

Helmeted investigators continued poking through rubble in Nairobi while graves were dug in the red earth in a nearby cemetery, casting their work in poignant perspective.

A British forensic team was on the way to aid the FBI’s 215 agents, lab examiners, evidence technicians, computer specialists, photographers and translators in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, sites of the bombings.

Bombing evidence was expected to arrive at the FBI laboratories in Washington this weekend for tests to confirm what explosives were used and whether the two bombs had the same ingredients.

Police here are working on new leads they hope will enable them to trace the vehicle used in the bombing _ a yellow pickup truck or van _ which local reports say was apparently bought locally shortly before the attack.

Investigators have declined to discuss specifics of the probe. But employees at one Nairobi car dealership said Friday that police had called in the firm’s owner for questioning the previous day as they tried to find out about the bombers. What he said was not immediately known.

Funeral services were being held today across Kenya, which suffered 247 bombing deaths, and newspapers carried dozens of black-bordered death announcements.

At Langata Cemetery, hundreds of mourners remembered Alice Ndutu Gachiri, a government secretary who was killed while at work in on the third floor of Cooperative Bank House, which towers above a parking lot where the car bomb exploded.

Watching shovels of dirt fall onto his 36-year-old sister’s coffin, Peter Njao remembered her as ``our guiding light. She was someone who would keep somebody’s secret, and she would really try to help.″

The family expressed anger at her unknown killers. Brother Edward Chege prayed, ``Most of all, let us thank our God, Jehovah, for giving us the strength to endure this undeserved grief.″

Gachiri was survived by her husband, Mwangi Gachiri and daughters Grace Christine, 12, and Maryanne Wambui, 10.

In a videotaped message, President Clinton extended condolences to the victims’ families, saying, ``We grieve together.″

``I am proud that our nations have also renewed our commitment to stand together _ to bring the offender swiftly to justice, to combat terrorism in all its forms and to create a more tolerant and peaceful world for our children,″ Clinton said.

Newspapers also reflected a mixture of grief, bewilderment and anger. Several letters to the editor accused the Americans of giving priority to U.S. victims and protecting evidence at the bombed embassy site, at the expense of rescue efforts. All but 12 of the dead were Kenyans.

``Few Kenyans will ever forget the hideous images of charred bodies trapped in buses, mutilated corpses piled up in pickups and dazed wounded groping in the streets, their faces washed in blood,″ said an editorial in The Kenya Times. ``No arrest, trial or conviction will ever compensate for the losses.″

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced she will leave Sunday for the two East African capitals to meet with investigators and console the injured.

Police in Tanzania said today that all but two of the 14 foreigners arrested in connection with the bombing were no longer being questioned in the case. The director of criminal investigations, Rajabi Adadi, said the two were not the bombers but he hoped they could help the investigation.

FBI agents said today they had not discounted the possibility that the explosives had been carried onto the site by a water tanker belonging to the embassy, but were looking at other possibilities including a car bomb.

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda, meanwhile, has been relocated from the center of the capital, Kampala, to a hilly suburb because of the Kenya and Tanzania bombings, newspapers said today. The new location is two miles away in Kololo, where most other foreign missions are located.

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