|SLUG: 2-268590 USS Cole Returns (S&L)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=USS COLE RETURNS (S&L)
INTRO: The U-S-S Cole is heading home. Dale Gavlak reports from Cairo that the bomb-scarred navy destroyer is to be returned to the United States for repairs by a Norwegian transport vessel.
TEXT: The American national anthem played as four tugboats pulled the U-S-S Cole slowly out Yemen's southern port of Aden. The vessel was badly damaged two-weeks ago in an apparent suicide bombing that killed 17 U-S sailors.
Security was tight as the ship was towed out. American and Yemeni patrol boats, mounted with machine guns, escorted the Cole out to open waters, while American helicopters flew overhead.
Some Yemenis expressed relief to see the ship leave. Many locals said they feared the bombing of the ship would serve as an excuse for continued U-S military presence in the Gulf country.
But diplomats and analysts have commented that a joint investigation into the attack may in fact strengthen ties between the world superpower and the poor, but strategic, Arab state.
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U-S and Yemeni officials say they believe Islamic militants may have carried out the bombing. So far, two little-known Islamist groups have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Yemeni authorities claim they have detained more than 70-people for questioning. These include some Afghan-Arab volunteers who came to Yemen after fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. (SIGNED)