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Many Kenyans Feel Special Empathy with US on Sept. 11 Anniversary


Kenyans commemorated the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States at a memorial service in the capital, Nairobi. Many Kenyans feel a special empathy for Americans because they too have been the victims of terrorism.

Christian and Muslim clerics addressed the hundreds gathered in Nairobi's Consolata Shrine to commemorate the terrorist attacks on the United States one year ago. Diplomats stood alongside American students in the crowded church, its walls decorated with newspaper headlines from around the world, reporting on the attack.

U.S. Ambassador Johnny Carson said that he especially appreciated Kenyans' messages of condolence because he knows they have also been the victims of a major terrorist attack. Four years ago on August 7, 1998, a bomb blew up the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, killing 214 people and injuring more than 5,000. Ambassador Carson said the people of Kenya and the United States share a special bond.

"No other country in the world understands and appreciates as well the profound feelings of loss grief and hurt that swept across America on September 11," he said. "When Kenyans tell Americans that 'we understand your suffering', and that 'we are with you in this moment of adversity,' we know that they speak with a deep feeling of empathy and common grief."

That terrorist attack in Nairobi, like the terrorist attacks one year ago, is believed to have been masterminded by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida network.

One of those attending the service was Anne Gachui. Her nephew, Kaaria Mbaya, worked in the World Trade Center, and he was the only Kenyan who died in the attack.

Ms. Gachui said she came to the Consolata Shrine to pray for members of her family who are in New York commemorating his death. "We continue to pray for the peace, especially for my sister-in-law who is right now in New York. They were supposed to meet at the Ground Zero and lay some flowers. And I really want to pray that God will continue to give all of us peace," she said.

Kenyan Health Minister Sam Ongeri said the Kenyan government stands by the United States in its war on terror and urged all peace-loving nations to do the same.

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