The State Department Thursday observed the 10th anniversary of the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the twin attacks, which killed 229 people, destroyed buildings but not the ties that bind the United States, Kenya and Tanzania. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Hundreds of people filled the State Department's main auditorium for the observance. There were also ceremonies in the Kenyan and Tanzanian capitals, with moments of silence at the mid-morning time of the nearly-simultaneous blasts.
The truck bombings wrecked both U.S. missions but the damage and casualties were much higher in Nairobi, where the blast brought down parts of the embassy and neighboring buildings in the crowded center of downtown.
In all, 218 people were killed in Nairobi including 12 Americans, and some 5,000 were injured. The Dar es Salaam blast killed 11 people - nine Tanzanians, one Kenyan and one Somali national - and wounded 85 others.
At the State Department event, attended by the Kenyan and Tanzanian chiefs of mission in Washington, Secretary Rice mourned the loss of innocent life and said the United States is eternally grateful for the sacrifice of the American and foreign national employees killed in what she termed the "unspeakable" attacks.
She said while the bombings appeared at the time to have been almost random crimes, they are seen differently now in hindsight and in the context of other al-Qaida operations including the September 2001 attacks on the United States.
"We see then as they were: as the opening of a new twilight struggle between hope and fear, peace and hatred, freedom and tyranny - a struggle that has now finally, fully been joined," said Rice. "And on that day, we saw in response - from our diplomats and development workers, our soldiers and our citizens, our friends and our allies - what is best in humankind, and why our shared values will prevail."
Rice said while the al-Qaida attacks wrecked two embassies, they did not destroy the ties that bind the American, Kenyan and Tanzanian people - which she said have emerged even stronger as exemplified by the new U.S. missions in both countries.
The State Department event also included emotional remarks by survivors of the attacks, including Dudley Sims, a former public affairs officer at the Dar es Salaam embassy. He said the terrorist attacks, however devastating, did not succeed, in that they did not break the spirit of their many victims.
"That vicious assault could not break our resolve," said Sims. "They could not destroy our morale. They could not change our focus. They are the ones who are running. And we will catch them all and bring them to justice."
President Bush, in a statement on tour in Asia, said the embassy strikes were brutal examples of the indiscriminate nature of al-Qaida's tactics. He said the anniversary underscores the need to confront terrorists, to work with allies to bring them to justice, and to prevent such attacks from happening again.
There has been criticism, renewed on the anniversary, that U.S. compensation for victims of the twin attacks has been inadequate.
The State Department said before the memorial event asserting that families of the American victims have received all benefits they are eligible for under current law. It said more than $40 million has been spent on medical care, rehabilitation and other help for African victims, survivors and their families.