NAIROBI, August 7 – Kenya is better equipped to respond to terrorism 10 years after the United States Embassy bombing in Nairobi, on this date, in August 1998.
U.S Ambassador Michael Ranneberger told Capital News that the bombing was a wake up call to the two countries.
He said following the attack, Kenya has made remarkable progress in responding to terrorism.
The envoy urged Kenyans to commemorate the attack by appreciating the development and growth made in dealing with crisis over the decade.
He lauded Kenya for forging on with the principles of democracy, undeterred by the attack.
“The greatest way that Kenyans can honour those who were victims is by instituting the democratic transition in Kenya like it was demonstrated during the election violence. This sends a message to the terrorists that the democratic spirit was not destroyed by what happened in 1998,” he noted.
Citing the weekend escape of prime terror fugitive Fazul Abdullah Mohammed who still remains at large, Ranneberger admitted that it was not easy even for the world’s super power the United States to apprehend criminals such as Fazul.
Ranneberger also noted that Kenya had made tremendous efforts in disaster management and in the unlikely event of another attack, Kenya’s response would be better.
Government Spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua also noted that the country had obtained special evacuation equipment, including well trained sniffer dogs, to be used in cases of disasters.
He also noted that teams in the Ministry for Special Programmes, in sections of the Police, the Military the Fire brigade have been trained to deal with any threat.
“We are self sufficient, though in cases of disaster we will require our friends to supplement (relief) but not take over the whole process,” he said.
However, he said the training focused more on averting disasters.
In this regard, he said the Anti Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) was fully operational and able to detect any threat from within and outside the country’s borders.
“We also work closely with other countries and so we are one of the leading countries in terms of fighting terrorism, we also give expert opinion to other countries,” he said.
However, even as Kenya commemorated the 10th anniversary since the bombing, relatives of the victims are yet to receive any compensation.
Ranneberger said no formal compensation had been given to anyone.
He said Sh2.7 billion was disbursed to support victims mostly the passers by who were injured during the blast.
“We have also paid school fees for orphans and widows of the victims. We have helped to re-build businesses, as well as provided medical funds for the victims. We don’t provide any formal compensation to anyone around the world affected by the attack,” he said.
He continued: “No matter how much money is provided, it can never be enough. People suffered this trauma. We have great sympathy and respect for them, but we will continue to have dialogue with various organisations that represent the victims to look for ways which we can be helpful to them.”
Mutua said he couldn’t comment on the matter as the case was in an American court, urging victims to be patient until a ruling was made.
There were 213 people, including 12 Americans and 34 local embassy staff, who died on that fateful morning of 7th August 1998.