Fears for McVeigh as he prepares for court

OKLAHOMA: Delayed trauma is beginning to surface in the bomb-shocked city that even has a counselling service for the media
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The Independent Online
Preparations were last night underway in a heavily-guarded federal prison on the plains of Oklahoma for an appearance in court by the most hated man in America: Timothy McVeigh, the former Gulf war Army sergeant accused of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Armed police and troops kept scores of camera crews at least a mile away from the low-red-bricked structure, such was their fear that someone may attempt to avenge last week's slaughter. Mr McVeigh, 27, was due to appear before a federal magistrate, Roland Howland, at El Reno federal prison for a ruling over whether he should remain in custody.The accused bomber has been held at the prison since his arrest by a highway patrolman for minor offences 90 minutes after a huge blast ripped through the Alfred Murrah federal building on 19 April.

As they continued with one of the largest manhunts in history, the FBI yesterday said that it had received more than 10,500 calls, including "many valuable leads", in their search for a second suspect, a dark haired tatooed man known only as "John Doe 2". A dozen men fitting the description had been picked up, interviewed and let go.

Although more than a week has passed since the bombing, federal law enforcement agencies show no sign of flagging in their determination to track down the right-wing paramilitaries believed to have plotted the bombing. There are also believed to be investigating whether the bombers were financed by raids on banks. In the past, federal agencies - particularly the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - have been divided by deep rivalries. "That's all in the past," said a Secret Service source, who is mourning the loss of four agents and two other staff in the blast, "We are too angry to fight among ourselves"

FBI and other police have been visiting every shop, bar, restaurant and motel in and around Oklahoma City in the hope of tracing someone who saw the bombers. They have also been working the area between the city and Junction City in Kansas, where Mr McVeigh allegedly hired the removal truck used to carry the 4,800lb cocktail of oil and fertiliser used in the bombing. Prosecutors allege that three days beforehand Mr McVeigh travelled to Kansas with his friend, Terry Nichol - one of two brothers facing separate bomb-making charges - and told him "something big is going to happen".

For much of the aftermath of the attack Oklahoma City has been in shock, dazed by its horror and dazzled by the international attention it has brought. But as the death toll rises - last night there were 110 dead, with 97 still missing - so has the trauma begun to surface. It is not uncommon encounter people weeping in the streets, or in bars. There is even a counselling service for the media.

As they stride around town in their miners-style helmets, festooned with stickers bearing nicknames like "Wood Chopper" or campaign messages - "Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995" - off duty rescue workers are greeted as heroes. Although many are strangers here,they are hugged, applauded, and bought drinks wherever they go.

Oklahomans are keenly aware of the nightmare they have been enduring in their search through the rubble.Even the usually steely and tight- lipped Secret Servicemen have been hugging, and weeping with grief-weary strangers.