Date: Wed, 12 Aug 98 11:15:53 CDT
/** headlines: 175.0 **/
Capitals Rocked By Bomb Blasts
By Philip Ngunjiri, IPS, 7 August 1998
NAIROBI, Aug 7 (IPS) - Kenya's capital city has virtually come to a standstill Friday following a powerful bomb explosion near the 25-story Kenyan Cooperative Bank and the United States Embassy which has so far, left more than 24 people dead.
A small seven-story building sandwiched between the two buildings was completely brought down and the capital was enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke causing chaos during the early morning hours as people moved about the city.
Windows at adjacent buildings were completely shattered by the powerful bomb, and offices as far away as 10 kilometres from the explosion had their windows rattled by the blast.
The death toll is believed to be still rising as Kenyan television reports that up to 400 people, mainly those on the sidewalks, were injured in the bomb blast.
But the number of injured is believed to be as high as 1000. Hospitals are reportedly overstretched, and every 10 minutes, there are appeals on Kenyan radio for blood donations and for nurses and other health personnel to report to work.
A similar explosion hit the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam Friday, killing at least six people and injuring 72 others, according to the latest reports from the Tanzanian capital. A car bomb was apparently placed in the parking lot near the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam.
The Nigerian and French embassies, near the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, had their windows completely shattered in the powerful blast.
U.S. embassy staff in both countries are believed to be among the dead and injured, although there have been no names released in either country. In Kenya, the U.S. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell was among those injured in the blast. She reportedly received a cut on the lip and has been treated at hospital.
U.S. marine helicopters are hovering over the Kenyan capital as people continue to be evacuated from the scene of the blast and rushed to hospitals.
A bomb scare was reported also Friday at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, which has been cordoned off by security. The U.S. Embassy in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, also has been flanked by security, although there have been no reports of a bomb scare in Zimbabwe. According to an employee of the United States embassy in Harare, the security measures are "just precautionary".
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the bomb action. Neither the Kenyan nor the Tanzanian governments have issued any statements on the incidents in their countries.
[c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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