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Third Anniversary of Kenyan Embassy Bombing Marked - 2001-08-07

Tuesday marks the third anniversary of the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The blast killed 213 people and injured more than 4,000 people. President Daniel arap Moi marked the anniversary by opening a memorial park at the site where the U.S. embassy once stood.

Thousands lined the streets to witness the opening of the memorial park. Doves of peace were released as President Moi unveiled a plaque engraved with the names of all those who died in the blast. Four men, alleged associates of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, have been convicted of the bombing in a U.S. federal court in New York.

Prudence Bushnell was the U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time of bombing. She returned for the ceremony and expressed her grief to the people of Nairobi. "The citizens of Nairobi became a model to the world on August 7 of solidarity and heroic rescue. I remember the people with whom I walked down those steps of Cooperative Bank Building who said prayers, who sang hymns to the many bleeding and wounded who joined us and who always remained calm," said Ms. Bushnell. "I know this is a difficult day for you. I understand you often feel angry. I want to say to you once again as a fellow human being, 'Pole sana.'"

"Pole sana" is Kiswahili for the English word sorry. But the solemn occasion was marred by a stampede that occurred soon after the dignitaries departed. During the ceremony, the officials had closed the gates to the park, preventing thousands of mourners from getting inside. After the ceremony, the crowd forced open the gates and surged into the park.

One woman collapsed in front of the plaque, crying "my father, my father." Other people voiced their anger at not being allowed into the park.

The memorial park's administrator, Janet Adolwa, says park officials were not trying to prevent people from entering. They just wanted them to come in an orderly manner.