07 August 1998
(US flying disaster aid relief to Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam) (550) By Jane A. Morse USIA Diplomatic Correspondent Washington -- The dual attacks on the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania are unprecedented, according to Thomas Pickering, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. "This, in terms of our quick recollection, is the only circumstance we know of where there were coordinated attacks in different countries against American embassies," he said at a late afternoon press briefing at the State Department August 7. The massive explosions occurred within five minutes of each other in the morning hours of August 7 -- 10:40 a.m. local time (3:40 a.m. EDT) in Dar-es- Salaam and 10:45 a.m. local time (3:45 a.m. EDT) in Nairobi. There were no advance warnings or threats to either of the US Embassies, Pickering said. He did note, however, that US embassies around the world get a total of some 30,000 threats per year, all of which are considered seriously, he said. Pickering declined to speculate on who was responsible for the bombings, nor did he confirm press reports that the explosions were the results of car bombs. He did confirm that there appears to have been just a single massive explosion at each site. American casualties were limited to Nairobi. According to Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, eight official American personnel are confirmed dead, six are missing and unaccounted for, and 14 are in hospitals. In Dar-es-Salaam, five foreign nationals employed by the US Embassy were killed, Pickering said. "Given the great damage, casualty figures are necessarily still tentative," he pointed out. Patrick Kennedy, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration, told reporters after the briefing that 167 Americans work for the US Embassy in Nairobi plus several hundred foreign nationals. In Dar-es-Salaam, 42 Americans are employed along with some 100 foreign nationals, he said. Pickering noted that the State Department is coordinating the US government response through a department task force. Two special teams have already been dispatched for Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. A US military C-141 departed Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany with members of an interagency disaster response team which will provide medical assistance, Pickering said. And a second Air Force C-141 departed from Andrews Air Force Base at the afternoon of August 7 carrying additional medical supplies and US personnel to assist in recovery operations, he said. In addition, a number of other flights are departing the United States and South Africa, Pickering said. These flights are carrying medical supplies and personnel and additional disaster response team members, who will provide for embassy security and begin evidence recovery efforts, he said. There is a special flight coming from the Middle East to provide additional security to the embassies concerned, he added. According to Deputy State Department Spokesman James Foley, Secretary of State Albright is expected back in Washington late the night of August 7. Her plans are to confer with the State Department Task Force set up to deal with the crisis immediately upon her arrival. She is also scheduled to confer with senior advisers and members of President Clinton's national security team, Foley said.