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UPI Focus: Guard survives attack; describes assault

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug. 10 -- A Kenyan guard standing at ground zero in the bombed American Embassy miraculously survived the blast and told investigators that two occupants of the explosives-laden truck hurled grenades when he refused to open the back gate. Seconds after the grenades exploded -- which people in the area have described as loud pops -- the truck-bomb detonated, killing scores of people and wounding hundreds. The truck-bomb exploded as the Kenyan guard, who officials declined to name, was fleeing toward the main embassy building to escape the grenade attack. U.S. officials in Washington said today that the guard not only survived a bomb that broke windows up to one-half mile away, but he was able to describe for American investigators events leading up to the fatal terrorist attack. According to the Kenyan's account, which U.S. officials have not yet been able to confirm, a vehicle resembling a water or fuel truck tried to gain access through the front gate of the embassy. The guards directed them to the back entrance of the compound, where such deliveries are customarily received. But the guard in the back refused to open the gate for them, which was when they emerged from their truck brandishing grenades. The guard fled for cover when the occupants of the truck threw their grenades, and survived the blast from the truck-bomb, which was detonated only seconds afterward. State Department spokesman James Foley said today, 'He was a real hero.' At least 210 people, including 12 Americans in Nairobi, died as a result of the apparently coordinated bombings of the American missions in Kenya and Tanzania. U.S. officials said fatalities would have been far greater if the truck bomb had been detonated inside the embassy.

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Rescue efforts continued today, while the search into the causes of Friday's explosions and for those responsible was only beginning. The FBI and Pentagon have sent analysts to Kenya and Tanzania, and authorities are treating the incidents as terrorist attacks. Nearly simultaneousblasts Friday morning in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, resulted in widespread carnage and building destruction. Fewer than 200 of the nearly 5,000 people wounded in the explosions remain in hospitals and 15 of the most seriously injured have been flown to a U.S. military hospital in Landshtul, Germany. Among the dead are 12 Americans, including Consul General Julian Bartley, Sr., and his 20-year-old son, Jay Bartley. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will accompany the American remains -- except for one woman who will be buried in Kenya -- back to Washington Thursday from the Army hospital in Germany. No U.S. citizens were among the 10 people killed by the blast in Tanzania. In Kenya, some three dozen of the victims worked at the U.S. Embassy and many of the others were in an adjacent bank when the explosion occurred. Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy told reporters today that both embassies were considered low-risk sites for terrorist attacks, which is why security measures recommended after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut 15 years ago were never implemented. ---

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Copyright 1998 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---

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