Nairobi — Kenya and Tanzania on Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of deadly US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which signalled al-Qaeda’s emergence as a dangerous player on the global stage.
In Nairobi, families of the victims and officials gathered for a ceremony at a memorial park in the centre of the Kenyan capital, built on the site of the US embassy. The diplomatic mission was devastated by a huge explosion on the morning of August 7 1998, followed minutes later by another massive blast that wrecked the US embassy in Tanzania.
A total of 224 people were killed in the attacks and about 5,000 injured, mostly Africans.
With two bombs loaded onto the back of trucks and a trail of carnage in East Africa, the world was introduced to Osama bin Laden three years before the September 11 attacks in New York would make him a household name.
"Twenty years ago today, evil showed its terrible face in Kenya and Tanzania," US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec told the gathering. "In the middle of a busy Friday morning, al-Qaeda terrorists exploded bombs outside the US embassies here in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam. In an awful moment, the lives of thousands changed forever as did the lives of their families and friends," he said.
The Nairobi Chamber Chorus performed the US and Kenyan national anthems then the crowd, lit candles in hand, listened as the names of the victims were read out.