US sued over bomb 'negligence'

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The Independent Online
KENYAN lawyers plan to sue the United States for negligence in the wake of the bomb attack on the American embassy in Nairobi, amid criticism in the country that the US has only looked after its own victims.

The Law Society of Kenya said it had decided to seek advice from experts on international law. There are no precedents for such a move, but George Kegoro, the Law Society secretary, insisted the allegations of lax security around the embassy could provide grounds for negligence charges.

"The embassy was a target for terrorists. Knowing that, the US still kept the building downtown. There have been reports of poor security, including claims that the embassy guards were warned four days before the bomb that men were videoing the building." The society would have little trouble finding complainants if a legal avenue is open.

The death toll is expected to exceed 230, and 5,000 people were injured. Many victims were the breadwinners for large families. Kenyan companies have also been badly hit: the business area around the embassy was devastated.

The Law Society's determination to pursue legal action is influenced more by emotion than by a realistic estimation of its chances of success.

Mr Kegoro said Kenyans were furious at the way the Americans had focused resources on US victims. "Twelve American lives seem to have been a million times more important than 200 Kenyan lives." he said.

President Daniel arap Moi said the US had lost touch with the suffering of others. However, President Clinton and the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, both praised the level of cooperation between US investigators and the authorities in Kenya and Tanzania.

The two countries, said Mr Clinton, "are working very closely with us in our attempts to find those who are responsible'. Ms Albright said she was "heartened by the close cooperation ... from the moment the tragedies occurred".

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