20 years ago, US embassies in East Africa attacked

20 years ago, US embassies in East Africa attacked thumbnail
PARIS: On August 7, 1998 huge back-to-back bomb blasts rocked the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing 224 people, injuring 5,000 and thrusting al-Qaida onto the world stage.

The blasts marked the first major attacks by Osama bin Laden’s network in its war against the United States, which culminated three years later in the September 11, 2001 plane atrocities on New York and Washington DC.

On the 20th anniversary of the East Africa attacks, here is a look back at what happened.

At around 10:30 am on August 7, a Friday, a huge car bomb explodes outside the US embassy in central Nairobi, shattering large parts of the building and the adjacent 25-storey Cooperative House Bank, which spew glass and concrete. Blood-soaked people flee in panic.

The bomb “blew out virtually every window in buildings within a 300-metre (yard) radius, raining razor-like shards on helpless pedestrians,” AFP reports.

Five minutes later, a booby-trapped tanker truck explodes outside the US embassy in Dar es-Salaam.

“The place looks like a war zone area. The houses have been blown to pieces, the roofs are shattered,” AFP quotes a witness telling CNN in the Tanzanian capital.

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